Kentucky was riding some momentum into Sunday's matchup against the top ranked South Carolina Gamecocks. Early on in the game, that momentum could be seen on the court as the Wildcats held their own in the first quarter. At the conclusion of the first 10 minutes, the top 25 matchup was locked in an 18-18 tie. Following a completive first quarter, the definitive best team in the country showed up.
The Gamecocks suffocating defense along with some inexcusable misses in the paint for Kentucky allowed South Carolina to dominate the second quarter, outscoring the Wildcats 23-9. Kentucky simply had no match for South Carolina in the paint, getting outrebounded by a total of 55-37 for the game. Heading into the locker room, Dawn Staley's club had a strong grip on the game.
The second half was more of what the second quarter entailed, stifling defense and an intense level of physicality by the Gamecocks, which ultimately led to a 74-54 victory for South Carolina. Star forward Aliyah Boston dominated inside with 18 points and 15 rebounds on the game. The 6'5 junior had a three-inch advantage on the tallest Wildcat who played consistent minutes, Dre'Una Edwards.
A 3-3 start from three gave the Wildcats energy to stay in the game early, but the rim got a lot smaller for Kentucky, finishing the game 7-18 from three and 21-71 for the game overall. If you want an opportunity to knock off the top team in the country on the road, you cannot shoot less than 30% from the floor.
The main takeaway from this game is simple, this team goes as far as Rhyne Howard takes them. Howard turned in an impressive 30-point performance on Thursday, helping the Wildcats knock off the 15th ranked Georgia Bulldogs. Today's performance for Howard was nowhere near the offensive masterpiece she put together against Georgia, only putting up 9 points on 2-14 shooting today. For Kentucky to have a shot against a team of South Carolina's caliber, Rhyne Howard will need to find her groove again.
You never like to lose a conference game, but Kentucky was playing with house money in this game following Thursday's win over Georgia. With that said, the Wildcats need to get back in the win column when they take the court this Thursday at home against Mississippi State. For now, Kyra Elzy and the staff now have an indication of where the Cats stand against the elites of women's college basketball.