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GALLERY: Kentucky pulls away late to avoid upset against Norse

Matt Sexton, Sports Editor

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Despite trailing for only the second time this season at the half, the Kentucky Wildcats women’s basketball team rallied in the second half to hold off Northern Kentucky 84-65 at BB&T Arena.

NKU (5-2) led the 11th-ranked Wildcats (7-0) at halftime 41-37. This was after trailing 14-5 early in the game. The Norse led by as many as six in the second half, 45-39.

“We played a great first half,” NKU head coach Dawn Plitzuweit said. “Shots were falling for us in the first half. It’s tough to sustain that for an entire game.”

Kentucky took its first lead of the second half with 6:23 left in the third. After Sarah Kinch scored to pull the Norse within four, 54-50, Kentucky put the game away with a 21-7 run to go up 75-57 with 4:19 remaining.

“I was really proud of the fight our kids showed,” Plitzuweit said. “I thought we played very, very hard. Late in the game we had to pick them up and try to turn them over. That doesn’t suit us very well.”

UK head coach Matthew Mitchell wasn’t even sure Janee Thompson would be able to play against the Norse as she battled a stomach illness. She ended up leading the Wildcats with 21 points.

“Twenty-four hours ago, didn’t even know if she could play,” Mitchell said. “She felt really bad about 12 hours ago. Our medical staff got an I.V. in her. She came out and gave it a go around noon and looked OK. She told me before the game she was going (to play).”

Sarah Kinch led NKU with 16 points. She made 6 of 9 shots including all three 3-point attempts.

“I thought Sarah Kinch came in and gave us some great minutes,” Plitzuweit said. “That was really neat. She did a fantastic job for us.”

NKU was playing without second-leading scorer Rebecca Lyttle, who did not play.

“It is tough,” Plitzuweit said. “We have one player in our program that has played at the BCS-level before and physically can compete with that consistently. I thought our players found a way to battle without her.”

Mitchell spoke about his immense respect for the NKU women’s basketball program.

“I’ve had respect for this program for a very long time,” Mitchell said. “They’ve been probably, historically, the best program in the state over the years. I have so much respect for the program that I love competing against them because I know it will be a meaningful game.”

The game was contested in front of 4,084 NKU and UK fans, the largest regular-season crowd for an NKU women’s home game. It was, at times, a raucous atmosphere.

“When you get to come up here in this type of environment,” Mitchell said. “We had a lot of fans up here. We have a lot of fans in this area. There were a lot of fans for Northern Kentucky.

“I just think it’s a great game for both of us. I think they’ll benefit from the game. I know we will, because we’ve had to earn both victories the last two years.”

Summary

Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015

@ BB&T Arena, Highland Heights, Kentucky

Kentucky 84, Northern Kentucky 65

K – 24 – 13 – 24 – 23 – 84
N – 17 – 24 – 11 – 13 – 65

(84) KENTUCKY (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Thompson 6-3-6-21, Morris 3-1-2-9, Akhator 6-0-1-13, Epps 7-1-1-16, Jennings 3-0-0-6, Camara 4-0-0-8, Jakubcova 1-0-1-3, Murray 2-0-4-8. TOTALS 32-5-15-84.

(65) NORTHERN KENTUCKY (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Roush 3-1-0-7, Wiegman 1-1-0-3, Uetrecht 3-2-0-8, Glick 1-0-2-4, Franson 0-0-6-6, Sanders 0-0-2-2, Terry 2-0-1-5, Gayheart 5-4-0-14, Kinch 6-3-1-16. TOTALS 21-11-12-65.

FIELD GOALS: K 32/58 (Epps 7/14, Thompson 6/9, Akhator 6/9); N 21/54 (Kinch 6/9, Gayheart 5/6, Roush 3/12, Uetrecht 3/10)

3 POINT FIELD GOALS: K 5/12 (Thompson 3/4); N 11/27 (Gayheart 4/5, Kinch 3/3, Uetrecht 2/7)

FREE THROWS: K 15/20 (Thompson 6/7, Murray 4/4); N 12/17 (Franson 6/8)

REBOUNDS: K 37 (Jennings 8, Epps 7, Akhator 5); N 26 (Uetrecht 4, Terry 4, Gayheart 4)

ASSISTS: K 17 (Thompson 7, Epps 5); N 14 (Roush 4, Uetrecht 3)

STEALS: K 10 (Akhator 3, Murray 3); N 8

BLOCKED SHOTS: K 3 (Akhator 3); N 2 (Uetrecht 2)

TURNOVERS: K 13; N 18

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GALLERY: Kentucky pulls away late to avoid upset against Norse