LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Rhyne Howard scored 13 of her 18 points during a ferocious 17-0 third-quarter run as No. 19 Kentucky asserted itself 67-44 against upstart South Carolina Upstate in an Ugly Sweater game on Sunday.
Howard missed five shots in the first quarter as Kentucky (7-3) got off to a rocky start, shooting 13% (2 of 13) in the opening period, whiffing six times from beyond the arc and falling into a 14-5 hole. The Wildcats missed two shots and made three turnovers before getting on the board.
Kentucky, which broke a two-game losing streak, outscored the Spartans 21-9 in the second quarter to claim a 26-23 halftime lead and blew things open in the second half. The Wildcats outscored USC Upstate 41-16 after halftime, holding the Spartans to 9 of 25 shooting with 15 turnovers.
Howard also had six of Kentucky’s 14 steals as the Wildcats scored 38 points off 27 Spartans turnovers. Jada Walker scored 13 points with three steals for Kentucky, Jazmine Massengill added 11 points with four steals and Dre’una Edwards scored 11 with 12 rebounds.
Denijsha Wilson and Terah Harness each scored 11 for the Spartans (8-3), who have lost three times to Kentucky. South Carolina Upstate rolled into Lexington on a six-game win streak and a bit of history: Kentucky was USC Upstate’s first opponent after moving up to Division I in 2007.
Kentucky was playing without guard Robyn Benton, who suffered an ankle injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Kentucky next opens Southeastern Conference play at Auburn Dec. 30.