Kentucky rallies past Gators for season’s first SEC win

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Kentucky Athletics

Photo: Kentucky Athletics

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Robyn Benton scored 17 of her 29 points in the fourth quarter as the Kentucky women’s basketball team earned its first Southeastern Conference win of the season, topping Florida 81-75 on Sunday at Exactech Arena.

Benton tied her career high with the 29 points, which came on nine of 19 shooting, including one of four from behind the arc, and a perfect 10-of-10 at the free throw line.

Kentucky (9-9, 1-5 SEC) got 19 points from Jada Walker, who scored 10 in the fourth quarter as well. Maddie Scherr had 18 points, six rebounds, four steals, three blocked shots and three assists for the Cats.

The Cats used pressure defense throughout the game, forcing the Gators into 24 turnovers, which included 17 steals. Kentucky had 28 points off of turnovers, compared to just 13 for Florida. UK also made 23 of 28 (82.1 percent) from the free throw line in the game.

Florida (12-6, 1-4) got out to a 6-2 lead early in the game and would lead 8-4 before Kentucky got consecutive baskets from Scherr and Adebola Adeyeye to tie the game at 8-8. However, the Gators would score the next seven points and would lead 18-10 after one period of play.

The Gators started strong in the second period behind KK Deans, who made four three-pointers in the first two minutes of the period, helping Florida extend the lead to 30-14. However, Kentucky responded by scoring seven in a row, using pressure defense to keep the Gators off the board for almost four minutes. After Florida got a basket, the Cats scored six consecutive points to cut the deficit to 32-27.

Kentucky would chip away at the Florida lead throughout the third period. The Gators would lead 46-40 before Kentucky went on an 11-3 run, sparked by five points from Walker, to lead for the first time, 51-49. Florida would tie the game at 51-51 but Scherr scored as the horn sounded and the Cats took a 53-51 lead into the final quarter.

Florida tied the game to start the fourth quarter but that’s when Benton took over. The senior had a pair of basket-and-ones, accounting for six points in an 8-0 run that gave the Cats a 61-53 lead with 8:52 to play.

The Gators would make one more run at the Cats, getting within two, 70-68, with 2:42 to play. But Benton and Walker were clutch down the stretch, keeping Florida at bay and securing the victory.

Kentucky returns to action next Sunday, visiting Mississippi State in SEC play. Tipoff is set for 1 p.m. ET and the game can be seen on the SEC Network.

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