United Kingdom women advance to second round of NCAA Tournament

Pierre Vaugeois
Mars 19, 2017

The seconds click down on the scoreboard clock quietly during a game.

"Coach was disappointed in my hustle and he wanted me to come out and hustle and play better defense on No. 23 because she had 18 points the first half and it just wasn't acceptable". In Kentucky's last two games, Epps and Akhator have combined for 107 of the team's 150 points. The 30-point game was the sixth of Epps career, ranking third most in program history.

Evelyn Akhator added 22 points and 10 rebounds for UK. "It's all good fun outside the lines but in the lines she knows that I'm going to battle and I know that she's going to battle".

In the past two games, that's been taking over as a scorer.

After leading for nearly the entire first half in their first-round NCAA Tournament game against visiting Belmont, the fourth-seeded Wildcats found themselves trailing at halftime.

Ohio State is led by junior guard Kelsey Mitchell, who is averaging 22.8 points per game with a team-best 129 assists.

Makayla Epps broke her personal record for made threes in a game, shooting 5-for-8, and only missing from deep in the fourth quarter.

The Cats took their coach's words to heart, going on a 13-point run to open the second half, only to have their lead taken away in the final minutes of the game.

I'm just trying to score and if I have to score 30 points for us to win and advance then that's what I'll do. I still get amazed to watch young people go up there and knock down free throws. Her 3-pointer with 4:26 remaining in the period made it 48-36. "That's what brought a smile to my face". Belmont struggled to guard Epps throughout the game. "That's one thing I'm looking forward to", she said. "She's had a lot of big games for us and I feel like she will, in some shape, form or fashion, will need to have a big game for us to win tomorrow".

Morris had already made three of four at the line by then and sealed the victory with four more in the final seconds for 15 points and an edge that proved critical against Belmont's last chance to tie.

The Cats will move on to play the victor of Ohio State and Western Kentucky on Sunday.

"They pushed us to the limit", Mitchell said of Belmont.

It's hard to ignore what Epps has been doing at the end of the season, Buckeyes Coach Kevin McGuff said. Despite their relationship however, Epps said once the ball is tipped, the two will become fierce competitors. And Newbauer was right about the match-up problems she presented for the Bruins.

The senior's ability to manage a game has impressed him most. "She's displaying great leadership".

But insane would be fine with Epps.

For Harper, the opportunity to get to the Sweet 16 and possibly a Final Four through Lexington would be the opportunity of a lifetime. As a team, Ohio State is scoring 86.1 points per game, hitting 45.5 percent from the field and 35.2 percent from 3.

Other reports by CampDesrEcrues

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