LEXINGTON, Ky. - Senior Ashley Johnson tied a season-high with 22 points, 15 in the first half, to keep Ole Miss in the game, but it was not enough as Kentucky pulled out the 65-61 win in Memorial Coliseum Thursday night. Ole Miss falls to 14-11, 4-8 on the season, while Kentucky improves to 18-6, 7-4 with the win.
"We fought hard," said Ole Miss head coach Carol Ross. "We battled and I like to see that. We did not play our best game by any means, but we were right there in the end. We have to put this loss behind us and get ready for the next game."
Johnson made 9-of-12 shots on the night, including 4-of-5 from the three-point line to pace Ole Miss. The 5-9 Shelbyville, Tenn., fouled out with 3:21 remaining and Ole Miss down 62-55. Sophomore Carla Bartee knocked down two-straight three's to cut the UK deficit to three at 64-61 with 2:20 left in the game. The two teams traded empty possessions before Ole Miss forced the Wildcats into a shot clock violation with just over 30 seconds remaining in the game.
Ole Miss called a timeout to set up a play for the final possession. Bartee was smothered at the top of the key and passed it around to sophomore Lindsay Roy who passed up a long three-point look before dishing to junior Ashley Awkward for a three on the other side of the court. Awkward's shot bounced off the rim and UK forward Jennifer Humphrey pulled down her 13th and final rebound of the night to seal the win for the Wildcats.
"We were right there and had a good look on our last possession," said Ross. "We actually had more than one. We just couldn't knock it down. I am not disappointed in our effort one bit. I am only disappointed that the same mistakes that plagued us against them in Oxford were the same ones to get us tonight."
In an 81-75 loss in Oxford in January, Kentucky out-rebounded Ole Miss 48-34 and in the rematch the numbers were much the same as UK pulled down 44 caroms to Ole Miss' 30. Ole Miss also missed 17-of-35 free throws in the first game between the two teams, tonight they only made 4-of-14 from the charity stripe.
The Lady Rebels were able to stay in the game largely due to turning in their best shooting performance from the field for the season. Ole Miss connected on 24-of-50 shots, including 9-of-19 from the three-point line. In addition to Johnson's outstanding numbers, Bartee made 5-of-13, all from beyond the arc and Awkward knocked down 3-of-6 shots. Junior Armintie Price made 5-of-11 shots from the field and was the third Lady Rebel in double figures with 14 points.
Ole Miss also played solid defense, forcing Kentucky to shoot only 37.9 percent from the field, including only 25.0 percent from beyond the arc. The Wildcats make 35.7 percent from three-point land on the season. UK did make 11-of-18 from the foul line and clobbered Ole Miss in second chance points, with a 20-5 advantage in that category.
Kentucky got on the board first with a lay-up by 6-6 center Sarah Elliott. Johnson then took off for Ole Miss knocking down consecutive threes and added a lay-up a few minute later to score eight of the Lady Rebels first 10 points.
Ole Miss pulled out to a 23-17 lead with 11:16 remaining in the opening period on a three by Bartee. It was the largest lead of the evening for the Lady Rebels. Kentucky then went on a 6-0 run to knot the game and the two teams traded baskets the remainder of the first half with the Wildcats owning a 33-30 lead at the break.
Bartee tied the game 11 seconds into the second half on her third three of the game, but Humphrey returned the favor with a three for the Wildcats as the shot clock wound down. Kentucky extended the lead to 10 with 14 minutes left to play at 49-39 on a triple from Carly Ormerod and then saw the Lady Rebels rip of a 14-0 run in which they held Kentucky without a field goal for nine minutes.
Price scored seven points during the run and Johnson five as Ole Miss reclaimed the lead and then some leading 53-49 with 8:09 left in the game. Kentucky then got three foul shots from Jenny Pfeiffer to close the game back to one and end the Ole Miss run. Kentucky got a couple of tip-ins and free throws down the stretch to take the win.
Ole Miss will return to action on Sunday, Feb. 19, when they travel to South Carolina. Tip-off with the Gamecocks is slated for 2 p.m. (CST), in the Colonial Center.
Lady Rebels lose at Kentucky
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