Kentucky upsets No. 2 seed LSU women's basketball, Kim Mulkey in SEC Tournament

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LSU women's basketball was upset in its opening SEC Tournament game.

No. 2 seed LSU lost 78-63 to No. 7 seed Kentucky in the quarterfinals Friday night at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.

LSU (25-5), which ended its regular season with Sunday’s 57-54 victory at Tennessee, had its eight-game win streak snapped. Kentucky (17-11) won its eighth in a row, a streak that included an 83-67 win over No. 10 seed Mississippi State 83-67 on Thursday.

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Point guard Khayla Pointer finished with 27 points for LSU, whose coach, Kim Mulkey, picked up a last-minute technical.

LSU, which was down by as many 22 points in the second quarter and by 20 at halftime, got back in it during a third quarter in which Pointer scored 11. The Tigers closed the quarter on a 13-4 run and went into the fourth down 57-46, but Kentucky maintained its double-digit lead throughout the final quarter.

Kentucky had a hot start

Kentucky led 45-25 after a first half in which it shot 54.8% (17-of-31) from the field. LSU gave the Wildcats plenty of room to shoot from outside, and Kentucky responded by making 61.5% (8-of-13) from 3-point range before the break.

Kentucky forward Dre'una Edwards (44) and LSU forward Autumn Newby (0) chase after the ball during Friday's SEC Women's Basketball Tournament game in Nashville.
Kentucky forward Dre'una Edwards (44) and LSU forward Autumn Newby (0) chase after the ball during Friday's SEC Women's Basketball Tournament game in Nashville.

Rhyne Howard had 19 first-half points for Kentucky despite twisting an ankle and having to get it re-taped in the opening quarter. She finished with a game-high 32 points including 6-of-8 3-point shooting.

LSU, meanwhile, shot just 33.3% (11-of-23) in the opening half including 29.4% during a second quarter in which it was outscored 20-12. Pointer, LSU's top scorer this season, had 11 points but made only 4-of-12 from the field in the half.

Ryann Payne gets the start

Ryann Payne got the start as LSU rested usual starting guard Alexis Morris (sprained MCL) as expected.

Morris, who had 20 points and played all 40 minutes in the Tigers' 78-69 regular-season win over Kentucky on Jan. 30 in Baton Rouge, didn't play Sunday. She got hurt in LSU's Feb. 24 win over Alabama.

Morris, the Tigers' No. 2 scorer, is being rested for what LSU hopes will be a return in time for the NCAA Tournament.

Payne finished with 13 points and hit 6-of-9 from the field.

Up next

LSU awaits its NCAA Tournament seed and assignment. The field will be announced on March 13.

This article originally appeared on Lafayette Daily Advertiser: Kentucky upsets LSU women's basketball, Kim Mulkey in SEC Tournament