LEXINGTON, Ky. – Brianna Lawrence poured in 16 points, but the Tennessee State women’s basketball team’s historic season ended, Friday, with a, 97-52, loss to Kentucky in the Opening Round of the NCAA Tournament.
Briana Morrow added 11 points for TSU (18-13), while UK (24-9) had six players finish in double-figures led by Linnae Harper’s 16.
The Lady Tigers shot 26 percent for the game (18-of-69) and had 26 turnovers. UK edged the Lady Tigers in rebounds, 52 to 34, and went to the free throw line 42 times.
Lawrence got TSU off to a good start by nailing the team’s first jumper of the game, but the hoop was part of a 1-for-13 start from the field for the Lady Tigers. The TSU dry-spell allowed UK to go on a 19-1 run to take a 16-point lead early in the contest.
Jayda Johnson finally ended the stretch with a corner three-pointer with 11:33 to go in the first half, but the Wildcats responded with 10 straight point to move ahead, 29-6.
Lawrence provided the highlights of the first half for the Lady Tigers and canned back-to-back three-pointers. Her second cut the lead to 21 with 6:19 to play before halftime.
The Wildcats eased up on the full-court press to end the first period, allowing Tennessee State to string together an 11-3 run that featured three-point shots from Rachel Allen, Johnson and Lawrence.
UK scored the last five points of the half and went into the locker room ahead, 50-25.
TSU was just 9-of-34 (26 percent) from the floor during the opening 20 minutes, but was deadly from deep, nailing 6-of-12.
Like the opening half, TSU got on the board first to begin the second with a Chelsea Hudson layup, but UK immediately countered with a pair of free throws on the other end to re-gain momentum.
The Wildcats later went on a 12-2 run to pad the lead to 40 when UK’s Alexis Jennings converted on a layup at the 8:46 mark. The Lady Tigers responded by scoring six straight points thanks to a technical foul on UK. The ensuing free throws made the score, 82-48, with 7:33 to go in the game.
The Wildcats closed the game on a 13-3 run and walked away with a 45-point win.
Tennessee State’s season comes to a close in the First Round of the NCAA Tournament, while Kentucky moves on to face Dayton, Sunday.