LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Senior guard Makayla Epps had 22 points, 16 rebounds and six assists, but No. 17 Kentucky came up just short, falling to seventh-ranked Louisville 69-67 in overtime on Sunday at the KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Ky.
Sophomore guard Taylor Murray had a career-high 21 points in the game for the Wildcats and fellow sophomore Maci Morris added 10 as Kentucky lost to Louisville for the first time in six years. Kentucky had won five straight over Louisville, including six of the last seven meetings.
Kentucky shot 42.1 percent from the floor in the game, but the Wildcats committed 19 turnovers and lost the battle of the boards 49-40.
Kentucky had a pair of chances to win at the end of regulation, but Epps missed a jumper with five seconds left. Louisville got the rebound and called a timeout with 4.2 seconds left. The ensuing inbound pass was stolen by junior post Alyssa Rice who got the ball to Epps, but her 3-pointer at the buzzer hit the front of the rim and bounded away, sending the game to overtime.
Louisville got off to a fast start in overtime when Asia Durr hit a 3-pointer and Myisha Hines-Allen made a jumper, giving the Cardinals a 61-56 edge. Kentucky got on the board in extra time when Murray hit one of two free throws to make it 61-57, but Durr answered with a free throw of her own to make it 62-57.
Murray connected on a jumper with 2:37 left to cut the lead to 62-59. But Hines-Allen hit a jumper to extend the lead to 64-59. Murray scored again, this time with 1:46 left, to cut the advantage to 64-61.
After a Louisville timeout, Hines-Allen was called for an offensive foul, giving Kentucky the ball with a chance to tie. Makenzie Cann missed a three-pointer, and Rice grabbed the rebound and got it to Epps, who drove to the basket, but was called for an offensive foul.
Louisville seemed to put the game away when Briahanna Jackson hit a layup to make it 66-61. But Epps drove right down the court, scored, and was fouled. And when she hit the free throw, it was 66-64 with 18 seconds left.
With 11 seconds left, Mariya Moore hit the first of two free throws but missed the second. However, Louisville’s Jazmine Jones got the offensive rebound and was fouled with 10 seconds remaining. Jones made the first, but missed the second and Kentucky called timeout with nine seconds left.
The Wildcats ran a set play getting Morris an open 3, which she made to cut the lead to 68-67 with five seconds left.
After a foul by Murray, Jackson hit one of two free throws, but Kentucky could not get off a potential game-winning shot, coming up just short.
Louisville got started early, scoring the game’s first six points and building an early 9-2 lead. Kentucky battled back with a basket by Epps and a 3-pointer by Morris to cut the lead to four at 11-7. But Louisville closed the period on a 5-2 run to take an 18-11 lead after one frame.
In the second quarter, Kentucky rallied, opening the period on an 11-2 run to tie the game at 22 apiece. Evelyn Akhator and Epps each had a pair of baskets during the run and Jessica Hardin added a three-pointer as well. But Kentucky ended the half by going more than four minutes without a field goal, and the Wildcats trailed 30-26 at the break.
The Wildcats stormed out of the locker room, getting a three-pointer from Epps and a jumper from Murray to take a 31-30 lead. But the Cardinals took the lead right back at 32-31 on a layup by Hines-Allen.
The two teams went back and forth in the third quarter, with no one leading my more than three points. There were nine lead changes in the period. Murray had a big quarter for the Wildcats, scoring 10 of Kentucky’s 17 points in the frame, which ended with Louisville leading 44-43.
In the fourth quarter, the tight battle between the rivals continued. Louisville scored first to go up by three, but Cann answered with a three-pointer to tie the game at 46-46. Kentucky would take it first lead of the period on an old fashioned three-point play by Epps, who made a layup and free throw to give Kentucky a 52-20 advantage. After Louisville missed a three-point attempt, Murray struck again, scoring on a layup to build the Wildcats’ lead to 54-50.
Louisville went more than five minutes without a score, but Durr ended that streak by hitting a three-pointer with 1:59 left in the game to cut the lead to 54-53. The Cardinals would tie the game at 54-54 with 1:13 left when Moore hit one of two from the line.
On Kentucky’s next possession, it was Morris nailing a pair of free throws to give Kentucky a two-point advantage with 51 seconds remaining. Louisville answered on a layup by Hines-Allen with 33 seconds left to tie the game at 56-56, which was the score at the end of regulation.