Women's Basketball Stumbles Against Kentucky, 73-70

Nov. 25, 2004

ST. THOMAS, U.S. Virgin Islands - Oregon State senior guard Shannon Howell scored 27 points and junior Mandy Close finished with a career-high 22 points, but the University of Kentucky women's basketball team overcame a 14-point halftime deficit to secure a 73-70 victory on Thanksgiving Day in the Paradise Jam.

It was a tale of two halves as Oregon State (1-1) dominated the opening action of play, but it was all Kentucky (3-0) when it counted down the stretch.

Howell scored the first eight points for the Beavers, helping OSU take an early 8-4 lead, as Kentucky committed seven turnovers in the stretch.With just under eight minutes to play in the opening half, Oregon State went on a 12-2 run to push the Beaver advantage to 38-21 - its largest lead of the game. Close and Anita Rivera buried key 3-pointers in the stretch and the Wildcats went ice-cold from the field, managing just one field goal in nearly seven minutes.

Howell finished with 17 first half points, while Close chipped in 10 on 4-of-5 shooting.

Oregon State headed into the locker room with a 44-30 advantage at the break.

The Wildcats used a big run of their own just minutes into the second half to completely change the game. Senior Sara Potts converted a steal into an old-fashioned 3-point play with 18:06 on the clock, propelling a 21-3 Kentucky run. UK took its first lead of the game (53-51) when Jennifer Humphrey hit a pair of free throws at the 11:38 mark.

The Beavers managed just one field goal, a Casey Bunn lay-up, in a seven-minute stretch.

After the dry-spell, Close and Howell kept OSU in the contest. Back-to-back lay-ups from Close and a jumper by Howell gave the Beavers a 63-62 advantage with 5:40 left. UK pulled back in front for good behind a pair of buckets from Potts.

Close attempted a 3-pointer in the final seconds that fell just short off the rim, as the Wildcats secured the comeback victory.

'They (Kentucky) picked up their defense in the second half,' said Oregon State head coach Judy Spoelstra. 'Their second chance points just killed us and we had a lot of missed block-outs on free throws.'

Howell scored 20-plus points for the ninth time in her 24 career games at OSU, connecting on 10-of-23 shots from the field. Close hit 9-of-14 field goals en route to her career-high 22 points and finished with six rebounds. Rivera added nine points on three 3-point field goals.

'I thought we had great scoring from our guard position,' said Spoelstra.

Just three players scored for the Beavers in the second half (Howell, Close, Bunn).

The Wildcats had three players reach double figures in scoring, led by Potts' 27 points. Humphrey added 12 points and 11 boards.

Oregon State continues action at the Paradise Jam when the Beavers face No. 17 ranked Rutgers University (2-0) on Friday at 10 a.m. PST.