(Courtesy: UK Athletics) LEXINGTON, Ky. – Rhyne Howard scored 24 points and Sabrina Haines added 14 as the 13th-ranked Kentucky women’s basketball team thumped Morehead State 79-54 on Thursday night at Memorial Coliseum.
For Howard, it was just another night at the office. The Cleveland, Tennessee, scored at least 20 points for the second time this season and the 12th time in her career. Wednesday's game was also the 30th time in 37 games during Howard's career that she has scored in double figures.
Kentucky (5-0) used its pressure defense to affect Morehead State all night. The Cats forced 25 turnovers and turned those miscues into 35 points. Meanwhile, Kentucky committed just six turnovers in the game, leading to only nine MSU points. The Cats hit 29 of 73 (39.7 percent) from the floor, including 11 of 32 (34.4 percent) from behind the arc. MSU made 16 of 47 (34.0 percent) of its shots, but the Eagles hit just three of 14 (21.4 percent) from long-range.
Kentucky took an early 5-0 lead on a basket by Tatyana Wyatt and a three from Amanda Paschal. The Cats would eventually build a 10-2 lead. MSU, however, would mount a 6-2 run to cut the UK lead to 12-8 with 3:48 left in the first. Howard ended that streak by scoring five in a row, part of a 10-0 run that gave Kentucky a 22-8 lead. The Cats would have a 27-13 advantage after one period.
In the second period, Kentucky wasted no time extending the lead. A three-pointer from Howard and another from Haines gave the Cats a 33-13 lead, forcing an MSU timeout with 8:52 left in the half. The Cats would extend the lead to as many as 24, on multiple occasions, including the halftime score, 48-24.
Kentucky's defense was swarming in the first 20 minutes, forcing 16 MSU turnovers and turning those into 23 points. The Cats also hit seven of their 16 shots from behind the arc (43.8 percent) in the first 20 minutes. Howard led all scorers with 13 first-half points.
In the third quarter, Kentucky kept the defensive pressure turned up, forcing four early turnovers and converting those into eight points. In the process, the Cats built a 31-point advantage, 59-28, with 6:24 left in the third period. That lead would eventually balloon to 34 points, 68-34, with 3:22 left in the period. Howard scored 11 points in the third quarter, and Kentucky took a 71-43 lead into the final stanza.
Kentucky would lead by as many as 32 in the fourth period before settling for the 25-point victory.
Kentucky returns to Memorial Coliseum on Tuesday, hosting Grambling. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. and the game can be seen on SEC Network Plus.