UK WBB Downs Florida In SEC Tourney After 8 Players Ejected In Fight

The Kentucky Wildcats women’s basketball team secured a comfortable victory against the Florida Gators with a final score of 72-57. The win propels the Wildcats to the second round of the 2023 SEC Tournament, where they will face sixth-seeded Alabama on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET.

The Wildcats, now 11-18 overall and 2-14 in SEC play, used a starting lineup consisting of sophomore guard Jada Walker, junior guard Maddie Scherr, graduate guards Robyn Benton and Blair Green, and graduate forward Adebola Adeyeye for the seventh time this season. The team has a 4-3 record when using this lineup.

Florida won the opening tip-off, marking the 21st time this season that Kentucky has lost the opening tip. However, Robyn Benton was the first Wildcat to score for the 12th time this season. Ajae Petty was the first sub off the bench for Kentucky for the eighth time this season.

Kentucky took an early lead in the game, with a 7-4 advantage over the first three minutes and 34 seconds of the first quarter. The team closed out the first quarter on a 9-2 run, with an and-one play by Amiya Jenkins, who was competing in her first SEC Tournament.

However, the second quarter of the game was marked by an altercation on the court, which resulted in eight players, including Cassidy Rowe, Eniya Russell, Zennia Thomas, and Saniah Tyler from Kentucky, and Faith Dut, Ra Shaya Kyle, Taliyah Wyche, and Tatyana Wyche from Florida, being ejected from the game. Robyn Benton and Ajae Petty from Kentucky received technical fouls, with Benton receiving her first foul in the game, and Petty receiving her second.

Florida ended the first half on a 7-0 run, and Kentucky led the game, 22-21, at halftime. The Wildcats got off to a 10-3 start in the second half, taking an eight-point lead with seven minutes and 23 seconds remaining in the third quarter. However, the Gators responded with an 11-5 run, which included back-to-back 3-pointers, to get within two points of the Wildcats.

Kentucky managed to hold onto the lead and went on a 11-4 run in the fourth quarter to stretch its lead, leading the Gators in scoring, 29-16, overall in the final stanza. The Wildcats defeated the Gators 72-57.

Robyn Benton scored a game-high 20 points with five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and two blocks. Jada Walker scored 13 points with four rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Adebola Adeyeye scored 11 points with a career-best 17 rebounds, marking her second double-double of the season. Maddie Scherr scored 10 points with four rebounds, six assists, and one steal in 25 minutes. Blair Green scored nine points with five rebounds, adding three assists and a 3-pointer. Freshman guard Amiya Jenkins played 18 minutes and scored five points with five rebounds, adding three assists and going 3-of-3 from the free-throw line.

The Wildcats shot 44.3 percent from the field on 27-61 shooting, their best shooting performance since going 51.8 percent on 29-56 in the win against Missouri on Jan. 29. They also outrebounded Florida 45-39, their best rebounding performance since grabbing 46 in the win at Minnesota on Dec. 7, 2021.

This win extends Kentucky’s winning streak to five straight SEC Tournament games, the longest streak in program history. In fact, the Wildcats have won at least one game in the tournament in 13 of the last 14 tournaments, making them a consistent contender in the SEC.

Head coach Kyra Elzy is in her third season with the Wildcats, holding a 48-39 overall record. Elzy has a 6-1 all-time record in the SEC Tournament, and her 6-1 start is the best start for a UK head coach to their tournament tenure in program history. She concluded the conference season with a 19-28 overall record in the SEC.

The Wildcats will face off against the Alabama Crimson Tide in the second round of the SEC Tournament. Kentucky leads the all-time series against Alabama 36-16 and defeated them earlier this season with a score of 74-62. The game will be televised on SEC Network with Darren Headrick on the call on the UK Sports Network.

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