Newcomers Shine as UK Hoops Downs Rice In Season Opener

LEXINGTON, Ky. – Newcomers Evelyn Akhator and Maci Morris each scored a game-high 16 points on Friday night in Memorial Coliseum as the No. 18/17 University of Kentucky women’s basketball team downed the Rice Owls 72-39 in its season opener.
Akhator notched her first-career double-double with over seven minutes remaining in the third period, ending up with 16 points and a dominating 17 rebounds. Morris, a Bluegrass native, scored 16 points in the game and had three 3’s, going 3-from-5 in the game.

UK moves to 1-0 on the season, and will face the No. 15 Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe, Ariz., on Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. ET. The game will be shown live on the PAC-12 Networks. 

Kentucky got out to a blistering start, grabbing hold of a 19-2 lead at the end of the first period, holding the Owls to 0.0 percent shooting from the floor, only allowing two shots from the free throw line to show up on the scoreboard. 

In the opening period, Kentucky was led in scoring by freshman Maci Morris, who had eight points for UK. Junior transfer Evelyn Akhator, who was playing in her first game for Kentucky, led the Wildcats on the boards with five, and scored the opening six points of the period. 

Rice scored its first basket in the game with 7:51 to go in the second period, as Elena Gumbs’ jumper fell through the strings. UK outscored the Owls 15-14 in the second period, led by Murray for the Wildcats. 

At the break, Kentucky hoisted a 34-16 lead in scoring by the freshman tandem of Morris and Taylor Murray, who each had 10 points in the half. 

A 20-point third period saw UK add to its lead at 54-21. Kentucky went 7-of-11 from the floor in the third period, with Akhator notching her first-career double-double with over eight minutes remaining in the period. Akhator and Alexis Jennings led the Wildcats with six third-period points, while Aktahor also adding a team-high six rebounds to the action. 

Rice and UK split the fourth quarter, 18-18. 

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