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Big second half lifts UK Women past North Alabama 98-56

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UK Athletics
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Dre'una Edwards tied her career high with 27 points as the 13th-ranked Kentucky women's basketball team used a big second half to beat North Alabama 98-56 on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum. Kentucky outscored North Alabama 63-25 in the second 20 minutes to blow open a close game.

All-American Rhyne Howard had 20 points, 10 rebounds, three steals and three blocks, recording the 18th double-double of her UK career. Senior Robyn Benton added 14 points and five rebounds, while freshman Jada Walker reached double figures for the first time in her career with 13 points.

Kentucky (2-0) hit 40 of 78 (51.3 percent) from the floor in the game, including six of 17 (35.3 percent) from behind the arc. UK continues to struggle at the free throw line, hitting just 12 of 21 (57.1 percent) from the charity stripe.

The Cats forced 21 Lions turnovers and turned those into 27 points. Kentucky also dominated the boards, grabbing 50 rebounds to just 27 for North Alabama. The Cats also held big advantages in second-chance points (30-4), bench points (28-8) and points in the paint (58-22).

Kentucky got on the board first when Howard drove to the basket and converted a layup. UK led 4-2 after a pair of Howard free throws before North Alabama took a 5-4 lead on a Patrycia Jaworska three from the wing.

That lead lasted exactly 21 seconds as Benton hit a 15-foot jumper to give the lead back to the Cats. Kentucky would stretch the lead to eight, 17-9, on a three from Edwards and a pair of free throws from Walker.

North Alabama would get a three from Macey Lee to cut the lead to three, 17-12, but UK closed the period on a 5-2 run to lead 22-14 after 10 minutes of action.

The Lions would go on an 8-2 run to start the second quarter, getting threes from Jade Moore and Jaworska to cut the UK lead to 24-22 and force a timeout by the Cats.

Kentucky responded out of the timeout, scoring eight straight, including four by Howard, to lead 32-22. But North Alabama would respond right back, scoring nine in a row to make it 32-31 with 1:41 left in the half. But Jazmine Massengill would hit a right-wing three for the Cats to make it 35-31 with 1:14 to play. That would be the halftime score.

The Cats started the third quarter with a 12-5 run, with all of the points scored by Benton and Edwards, to extend the lead to 47-36. Lee would do her best to keep North Alabama in the game, hitting a rainbow three from the left wing to cut the UK lead to 47-39 and later converting a layup to get the Lions within 51-41 with 5:33 left in the third quarter.

Kentucky would score the next five to extend the lead to 15 points, 56-41, with 4:04 left in the third. That was part of an 18-7 run that grew the lead into a 69-48 advantage with 1:23 left in the period. The Cats would lead 71-51 after three quarters.

North Alabama scored the first three points of the final stanza but Kentucky then went on a 12-2 run to open up an 83-56 lead and put the game away. UK closed the game on a 27-2 run, including the final 24 points of teh game, to finish off the victory.

Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, facing eighth-ranked Indiana in Bloomington. Tipoff is set for 5 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on ESPN.

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