After the Kentucky men's basketball team took a shocking defeat at the hands of 15-seed Saint Peter's, BBN turned their attention to Rhyne Howard and the Kentucky women. The Wildcats were arguably the hottest team in the country coming into Saturday's NCAA tournament matchup against Princeton. In fact, Kentucky had become a trendy pick to go far in the tournament. Former Tennessee Volunteer and WNBA star, Candace Parker, had the Wildcats upsetting UConn in the sweet 16 en route to a final four run. Despite a lot of momentum and faith among college basketball experts, Princeton had other plans for Kentucky.
This game was everything you would expect out of a 6-11 matchup. The margin of the lead throughout the game was usually in single digits. Unfortunately for the Wildcats, those single digit leads were largely held by Princeton.
The best word to describe watching this game as a fan would be “frustrating”. As mentioned earlier, Kentucky and Princeton played a tightly contested matchup throughout. With that said, the Wildcats were never able to capture the magic they had in Nashville when they went on big runs in the SEC tournament. With every punch Princeton would throw, Kentucky’s response would be slightly less impactful.
Kyra Elzy did not get the production from Rhyne Howard and Dre’Una Edwards that was needed to win a game of this magnitude. While Howard and Edwards did go for 17 and 16 respectively, they were very inefficient. Howard made just four of her 14 field goal attempts while Edwards made six of her 15 attempts and zero three-pointers on the game. With these inefficient numbers, the Wildcats needed a third member of the team to find a spark. Jada Walker did solid have a solid afternoon with 11 points on 50% shooting, but she was the only other notable contributor outside of Howard and Edwards.
Meanwhile, Princeton needed someone to step up and have a huge game to upset the SEC champs. They got exactly that from senior guard Abby Meyers who came into Saturday averaging 18.2 PPG. Meyers went off for 29 points on the Wildcats and helped the Tigers secure just their second NCAA tournament win in program history.
There will be a lot of time to discuss what went wrong on Saturday, but lets take a moment to appreciate this season as a whole. After starting 8-3, the Wildcats had a brutal stretch in January and early February that would lead them to two games below .500 at 9-11. As the Wildcats got healthy, they banded together around their coach and star player and exploded onto the national stage with a 10-game winning streak, including four wins in four days at the SEC tournament. Saturday’s loss was without a doubt disappointing, but we should applaud the effort and resiliency of this group. Some believed Coach Elzy was on the hot seat, but the ladies secured her job and provided the BBN with some wonderful memories for the last month of the season.
Cats Coverage's postseason coverage is brought to you by Mad Mushroom, the home of the original cheesestix. You can use our promo code 'CAT5' to receive $5 off a purchase of $20 or more at select locations in Lexington and Richmond, Kentucky, including 2 more locations in Indiana.