Akhator Leads Kentucky Past Albany 70-46

Evelyn Akhator had another double-double Saturday. (UK Athletics Photo)

Evelyn Akhator had another double-double Saturday. (UK Athletics Photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Evelyn Akhator had a career-high 28 points as No. 19 Kentucky won for the second time in as many nights, beating Albany 70-46 on Saturday night at Memorial Coliseum.

Akhator, who also had a game-high 13 rebounds, recorded her previous career high of 21 points last season against Alabama in a home court win over the Crimson Tide.

No other Kentucky player scored in double figures on Saturday, although four players (Makenzie Cann, Makayla Epps, Maci Morris and Alyssa Rice) each had eight points for the Wildcats.

Akhator got it going from the very beginning, scoring Kentucky’s first seven points of the game, but the contest was tied 7-7 early. That’s when the Wildcats went on a 10-0 run, sparked by three-pointers from Morris and Jessica Hardin, as well as three free throws by Cann.

Kentucky (2-0) held Albany to just 24 percent (five-of-21) shooting in the first quarter, while the Wildcats hit 42 percent of their field goals. Kentucky also converted seven-of-nine from the free throw line, taking a 19-11 lead at the end of the first period.

The second quarter followed a similar script to the first, with the teams playing fairly evenly at the beginning of the quarter before Kentucky mounted a 9-0 run to lead 36-19 at the half. Again it was Morris with a three-pointer in the middle of the run, coupled with a pair of baskets by Akhator. The Kentucky defense was also outstanding, holding Albany without a point for the final 4:56 of the half.

Kentucky struggled from the floor for nearly the entire third period, but the Wildcats scored six points in the final minute of the period to lead 53-34 after three periods. Despite shooting just three-of-15 (20 percent) in the quarter, the Wildcats actually extended their halftime lead by two points at the end of the third frame. Akhator had seven points of Kentucky’s 17 points in the period.

Kentucky pulled away in the fourth quarter, leading by as many as 29 before settling for a 26-point victory.

Albany, playing in its season opener, shot just 25.4 percent from the floor in the game and was held to just 12 second-half points by the Wildcats.

Kentucky returns to action on Thursday, when the Wildcats host New Hampshire. The game is set for an 11 a.m. ET tipoff at Memorial Coliseum.

 

KENTUCKY WOMEN’S BASKETBALL POSTGAME NOTES

Albany at Kentucky

Memorial Coliseum – Lexington, Ky.

Nov. 12, 2016

FINAL SCORE: Kentucky 70, Albany 46

Team Records and Series Notes

–          Matthew Mitchell is in his 10th season with Kentucky. Mitchell is 251-118 overall as a head coach and 221-89 during his tenure at Kentucky.

–          Kentucky is 127-19 all-time in Memorial Coliseum under Mitchell.

–          The Wildcats entered the season ranked No. 19 in both the USA Today/Coaches’ Preseason Top 25 and The Associated Press Top 25. The high ranking marks the seventh straight season UK has ranked inside the top 20 in both listings.

–          Tonight’s attendance was 4,667.

–          The Wildcats now own a 1-0 all-time record against Albany, as tonight’s game was the first-ever meeting between the two programs.

–          Kentucky will return to action Nov. 17 at 11 a.m. ET inside Memorial Coliseum when the Wildcats host New Hampshire. The game is UK’s annual Winning Tools Day. Local schools can receive free admission by RSVP’ing online at UKathletics.com. The game will be broadcast live on SEC Network+ and on the UK Sports Radio Network in Lexington on 630AM WLAP.

 

Team Notes

–          Kentucky used the starting five of Makayla Epps, Evelyn Akhator, Maci Morris, Alyssa Rice and Taylor Murray.

o   UK is 2-0 this season with that starting-five combination.

–          Tonight’s win brings UK’s record to 2-0 overall, after defeating No. 14 Miami in Friday’s season-opener.

–          Kentucky is now 2-0 vs. America East Conference opponents.

o   UK had not seen an AEC opponent since March 22, 1990, when the Wildcats defeated Maine.

o   Albany is the first of two AEC opponents UK will face this season, the other is New Hampshire on Thursday.

–          Kentucky has won 58 consecutive regular-season non-conference games inside Memorial Coliseum, dating back to Dec. 19, 2008 vs. Alabama A&M.

–          The Wildcats went on a 10-0 run in the middle of the first quarter to help them earn a 19-11 advantage at the end of the period.

–          Kentucky also went on a 9-0 run at the end of the first half to hold the Great Danes scoreless for the last 4:56 of the half. UK extended the run to 11-0 into the third period, holding Albany scoreless for 6:53 total.

–          With seven steals, UK forced 15 turnovers overall in the win.

o   Kentucky capitalized on those, scoring 17 points off Albany turnovers.

–          After being tied 7-7 in the first quarter, a free throw from Alyssa Rice put the Wildcats up 8-7 with 6:41 left in the first quarter. Kentucky did not trail again.

o   UK has not trailed in the second half this season.

–          Kentucky held Albany to only eight points in the second quarter.

–          The Wildcats went 6:58 without a field goal in the third quarter, and only made 3-of-15 field goal attempts total in the quarter. However, UK increased its lead by two points.

–          Despite Evelyn Akhator having the only double-digit scoring performance, the Wildcats had four players post eight points in Alyssa Rice, Maci Morris, Makayla Epps and Makenzie Cann, and one additional added six in Jessica Hardin.

–          Kentucky outrebounded Albany, 44-40 and posted nine second-chance points to the Great Danes’ eight.

–          The Wildcats also outscored Albany in the paint, posting 28 points in the paint to Albany’s 22.

 

Individual Notes

–          Evelyn Akhator ended the game with 28 points and 13 rebounds for a double-double.

o   Akhator’s 28 points represents a career high for the senior, as her previous record was 21 points (Alabama, 01/07/16).

o   Her 12 defensive rebounds also were a career high (12 vs. LSU, 03/03/16)

o   Akhator also recorded four blocks in the contest, just one short of her career-high five. (Morehead State, 11/13/15)

o   The senior continued to dominate the floor in the first half, posting 15 of Kentucky’s 36 first-half points to go along with six rebounds.

o   Akhator is averaging 15.5 points and seven rebounds in first halves this season.

o   Akhator now has 15 double-doubles in her career, which ties for the ninth most in program history.

o   This is the third consecutive double-double for Akhator, dating back to her performance in the NCAA Tournament against Washington (03/25/16). It also marks the third time she’s had three consecutive double-doubles.

–          Alyssa Rice started her 15th career game, scoring eight points with seven rebounds.

o   Her four offensive rebounds are a career high, surpassing her previous record of three.

o   Rice has played in 62 career games for Kentucky.

–          Makayla Epps scored eight points in the contest to go along with six assists.

o   With tonight’s performance, her career-points total climbs to 1,246.

o   Epps needs 187 points (1,433 total) to enter Kentucky’s top-10 scorers in school history.

–          Maci Morris also posted eight points in the contest.

o   Morris added two assists, two steals and one block.

o   Morris went 2-of-6 from 3.

–          Makenzie Cann had eight points and four rebounds in the game.

o   This was Cann’s second appearance for UK. She sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules after transferring from Cincinnati.

o   Cann went 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.

–          Jessica Hardin scored six points with five rebounds.

o   Hardin went 2-of-4 from the 3-point line.

–          Taylor Murray posted four points, three assists and three rebounds in the win. 

o   Tonight’s game was Murray’s second career start.

–          Paige Poffenberger and LaShae Halsel both saw their first career minutes for Kentucky, playing three minutes and one minute, respectively.

 

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