MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP) — Bria Goss scored 16 points and Kastine Evans added 15 as the seventh-ranked Kentucky Wildcats beat Middle Tennessee 84-72 on Sunday.
Kentucky (6-0) had lost in its last two visits to Murphy Center against Middle Tennessee coach Rick Insell, but the big-scoring Wildcats left with the program’s first win here since Jan. 8, 1989.
The Wildcats opened by hitting their first five shots and took control with nine straight points capped by a steal by Goss and a layup for a 12-3 lead. They led by as much as 12 when Goss hit a 3-pointer midway through the half for a 27-15 lead and were up 41-34 at halftime.
Jennifer O’Neill also had 14 points for Kentucky, and Samarie Walker had 12. Kentucky now has won 16 straight against non-conference teams in the regular season, and the Wildcats improved to 11-4 all-time against Middle Tennessee.
Ebony Rowe, a native of Lexington, Ky., scored 28 points for Middle Tennessee (1-3). The Blue Raiders’ losses now are all to Southeastern Conference teams, including Tennessee and at Arkansas.
Kentucky came in leading the SEC in scoring with 97.2 points per game with the Wildcats cranking it up to 102.8 points over the past four games.
The Wildcats didn’t come close to that pace Sunday as they played through lots of foul trouble with 30 fouls compared to 19 for Middle Tennessee. But they also forced the Blue Raiders into 23 turnovers that they turned into 34 points and had a 35-34 edge on the boards. Kentucky also hit 50 percent (33 of 66) from the floor.
Middle Tennessee only tied Kentucky once at 3 and got within five a few times early in the second half, the last at 47-42. Kentucky scored the next nine points to push the lead back to double digits with a layup by Harper capping the spurt with 14:05 to go and a 58-42 lead. The Wildcats pushed that to as much as 17 with 8:46 left before Middle Tennessee made one last push.
The Blue Raiders scored seven straight including a 3 from Laken Leonard before Cason scored on a drive to pull them within 74-68 with 2:36 left.
But Cason missed the free throw for the three-point play, and that was as close as Middle Tennessee would get.