No. 14 Kentucky comes up short against DePaul 94-85
Robyn Benton scored a season high 22 points but the 14th-ranked Kentucky women's basketball team lost to DePaul 94-85 on Thursday night at Rupp Arena.
Freshman Jada Walker got her first career start and responded with a career high 18 points, while sophomore Treasure Hunt tied her career best with 18 points of her own.
UK All-American Rhyne Howard was in foul trouble for much of the evening and finished with 12 points.
Kentucky (6-2) made 32 of 70 (45.7 percent) from the floor, but the Cats missed all 14 of their three-point attempts. DePaul made 39 of 76 (51.3 percent) from the floor, including seven of 22 (31.8 percent) from behind the arc.
DePaul (8-2) dominated the glass, grabbing 46 rebounds to Kentucky's 30. The Blue Demons also held advantages in second-chance points (21-12), bench points (16-10) and points in the paint (62-50).
DePaul got on the board first when Lexi Held hit a reverse layup to give the Blue Demons a 2-0 lead. But Kentucky responded with six points in a row to lead 6-2. After the Blue Demons cut it to 6-4, Kentucky scored the next four, on layups by Walker and Treasure Hunt, to lead 10-6 with 6:33 left in the period.
Kentucky would lead 14-8 before DePaul scored seven in a row to lead 15-14. Olivia Owens gave the Cats the lead back, 16-15, on a basket inside but DePaul answered with a three by Darrione Rogers to lead 18-16. Owens made another basket to tie the game at 18 apiece but DePaul made its seventh shot in a row, a basket by Aneesah Morrow, to lead 20-18.
Owens would tie the game at 20-20 before DePaul scored four straight to lead 24-20, forcing a UK timeout with 1:37 left in the first. Kentucky would get a basket from Howard late but the Blue Demons would lead 24-22 after one quarter.
Early in the second period, the Cats got a basket from Hunt and a steal and jumper from Robyn Benton to lead 26-24. After DePaul tied the game at 26 apiece, Benton scored four in a row to give the Cats a 30-26 lead, forcing a DePaul timeout with 8:21 left in the half.
The Blue Demons would respond with an 11-4 run to lead 39-36 with 4:47 left in the half. The Cats would climb back to within one, 42-41, before DePaul scored six in a row to stretch the advantage to 48-41. Kentucky got two free throws from Hunt with one second left in the half, but the Blue Demons led 48-43 at the break. Walker had 12 first half points for UK while Benton had 10.
Kentucky opened the second half by scoring the first seven points, six by Howard, to lead 50-48. But shortly thereafter, the UK All-American picked up her fourth foul and had to go to the bench. When she did, DePaul made its run. The Blue Demons scored eight in a row to take a 56-50 lead with 8:07 left in the third period.
The Blue Demons would take a 58-50 advantage before the Cats got a basket from Benton and two free throws from Nyah Leveretter to cut it to 58-54 with 7:17 left in the third.
DePaul would continue to extend the lead, using a 6-1 run to take a 64-55 lead with 4:58 to play in the third. But from there, it was the Cats using defensive pressure to climb back into the game. UK forced three DePaul turnovers that led to a 6-0 run and cut the deficit to 64-61 with 3:25 left in the third.
The Blue Demons would close the third quarter on a 7-2 run and would take a 73-65 lead into the final stanza.
DePaul would extend the lead in the fourth quarter, starting the period on a 6-2 run to lead 79-67 with 8:13 to play. Kentucky would continue to claw its way back, eventually getting within six, 83-77, on a Walker layup and free throw. But the Cats would get no closer.
Deja Church led DePaul with 20 points.
Kentucky returns to action on Sunday, visiting fifth-ranked Louisville at the KFC Yum! Center. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. and the game can be seen on ESPN.