UK Hoops Meets South Florida in Paradise Jam Finale
ST. THOMAS, V.I. – The University of Kentucky women’s basketball team will meet a tough South Florida team in the final game of the Paradise Jam Saturday, Nov. 29 at approximately 8:15 pm ET at the UVI Sport and Fitness Center in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. The game will be streamed live and be broadcast live on the UK Radio Network with Neil Price.
Paradise Jam Island Tournament
Kentucky vs. USF
Saturday, Nov. 29 - 8:15 p.m. ET
St. Thomas, Virgin Islands
Game Notes: UK | USF
|Radio: UK Sports Network
Live Video via Paradise Jam
The Wildcats are 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the round-robin event after falling to Illinois (77-71) on Thursday and defeating Oklahoma (92-88) in a wild game on Friday night in overtime. Sophomores Makayla Epps (Lebanon, Ky.) and Linnae Harper (Chicago) were the stars of the night as Epps posted career highs with 29 points and 10 rebounds and Harper added a career-best 22 points and 12 rebounds. Epps currently leads all scorers in the Jam with 24.5 points per game.
UK rallied from a 78-70 deficit with 1:31 left in the game to pull within one, 79-78, on an Epps’ layup with 23 seconds to play. Junior Janee Thompson’s (Chicago) go-ahead layup with five seconds remaining in the game rattled around the rim and fell out before OU’s Nicole Kornet grabbed the rebound and was intentionally fouled by Harper. Here’s where the drama ensued. Kornet was charged with a technical foul for slamming the ball down in frustration which resulted in her fifth foul of the game. Epps, who hit 11-of-15 from the stripe for the game, went to the line for the technical foul free throws, missing the first, but tying the game with the second foul shot with just 1.1 seconds on the clock. Because Kornet had fouled out, Oklahoma chose Derica Wyatt to shoot the free throws for Harper’s foul but she missed them both. The Sooners had one last chance to win the game as they inbounded the ball, but Sharane Campbell’s jumper hit the rim as time expired in regulation.
In overtime, UK scored eight of the first 10 points to go up 87-81 on Azia Bishop’s layup with 2:42 left. Epps scored nine of her 29 points in the extra minutes as UK held on the for the 92-88 victory.
UK has had a very balanced scoring attack through the first six games as seven players are averaging 5.8 points per game or better, including three in double figures. Senior Jennifer O’Neill (Bronx, N.Y.) leads with 17.3 points per game, while Epps and Harper follow with 16.3 and 12.7 points per game, respectively. Senior center Azia Bishop (Toledo, Ohio) is the team’s leading rebounder with 7.5 rebounds per game and Harper follows close behind with 7.2 rpg.
The Bulls are 2-0 in the tournament with wins over Oklahoma (83-68) and Illinois (67-61) and are receiving votes in both national polls. Overall, South Florida is 5-1 with the only loss coming at Maryland, 85-67. Guard Courtney Williams is USF’s leading scorer with 19.2 points per game. She was one of just two players to be unanimously selected to the preseason all-conference first team, joining fellow All-American and UConn standout, Breanna Stewart.
Forward Alisia Jenkins is the Bulls’ second-leading scorer with 14.7 points per game. She was named to the American’s preseason all-conference second team after posting 14 double-doubles last season. She currently is averaging a double-double with 14.7 points and 10.5 rebounds per game.
USF head coach Jose Fernandez is the program’s all-time winningest coach with a 239-209 record in 15 seasons. He is the only hispanic male head coach in Division I women’s basketball.
This marks UK’s second all-time appearance in the Paradise Jam. The Wildcats participated 10 years ago in 2004, defeating Duquesne (73-70) and falling to South Dakota State (57-55) and No. 17/18 Rutgers (75-60). Sara Potts was named to the All-Tournament team.
This is just the second all-time meeting between Kentucky and South Florida but the first since 1983. The teams’ lone meeting came on Jan. 14, 1983 in Lexington. UK won 93-65 in the first round of the Lady Kat Invitational.