Miami women’s basketball drops season opener to Kentucky 82-66

Women's basketball Head Coach Katie Meier is pictured at the BankUnited Center. This season came to a close Saturday night with a 74-71 loss to South Dakota State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. File Photo

The No. 14 Miami Hurricanes lost their season opener 82-66 to the No. 19 Kentucky Wildcats on Friday night at Memorial Coliseum.

The Hurricanes struggled to contain Wildcats senior guard Makayla Epps, who had 29 points on the night, including 18 in the fourth quarter. Epps was a preseason All-American pick and the Canes saw exactly why.

“Just tough as nails, I had some real compliments for her in the handshake line,” Head Coach Katie Meier said. “She’s a very very good player.”

Miami struggled to score against Kentucky. The team shot just 41 percent from the floor and only 33 percent from the three-point line. The Canes had 18 turnovers and attempted just six free throws. The Wildcats stout zone defense had a lot do with that.

“We were dribbling a little too much through the zone and they did a great job of digging the ball out,” Meier said. “We didn’t get to the free throw line as much as we wanted.”

The Hurricanes led 13-12 after the first quarter behind a strong defensive performance. That is where things began to fall apart, as Miami trailed 38-29 at halftime. The team stormed back in the third quarter and were down six heading into the fourth.

With 3:24 left to go in the game, Miami cut the Kentucky lead to just three at a score of 69-66 with a Keyanna Harris layup. However, the Wildcats finished the game on a 13-0 run to seal the victory.

Senior guard Adrienne Motley led the charge during the comeback, finishing with 16 points and three straight three-pointers during the fourth quarter.

“We wanted this game,” Motley said. “Our assistant coaches pulled the guards aside and said ‘this is what you guys are in the game for’ all week.”

Miami will look for its first win when it matches up against Albany in its second game of the Kentucky Classic at 7 p.m. on Sunday at Memorial Coliseum.