RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — Taylor Murray scored 14 of her 19 points in the second half, and Kentucky beat Princeton 82-77 on Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Maci Morris added 19 points, freshman Rhyne Howard had 15 and Tatyana Wyatt finished with 12 to help the sixth-seeded Wildcats (25-7) reach the second round of the Greensboro Region.
Kentucky, one of the nation’s leaders in turnover margin, turned Princeton’s 16 turnovers into 22 points and shot 50 percent but could never get comfortable against the 11th-seeded Tigers.
Ivy League player of the year Bella Alarie finished with 20 points, 15 rebounds and five assists for 11th-seeded Princeton (22-10). Gabrielle Rush added 22 points with six 3-pointers, while Sydney Jordan scored a career-high 17 points.
Alarie pulled the Tigers within 73-68 with a three-point play with 3:29 remaining. Howard, the Southeastern Conference’s newcomer of the year, countered with a 3 and the Wildcats forced three straight defensive stops before Carlie Littlefield’s 3 made it 76-71 with 34.6 seconds to play.
Princeton had one last chance to make it a one-possession game, trailing 80-75 after Howard missed two free throws with 20.6 seconds left, but Littlefield missed a 3 with about 12 seconds left and Howard iced it with two foul shots with 11.9 seconds remaining.
Princeton: The Tigers have established themselves as the premier program in the Ivy League and an NCAA Tournament regular. The next step is to find a way to earn another win or two. Princeton was in position for its second tournament victory and first since beating Green Bay four years ago, leading late in the third quarter, but couldn’t finish it off.
Kentucky: Now that the Wildcats are back in the tournament, they want to stick around for a while. Kentucky, which missed the field last year after making it eight years in a row, has not lost its tournament opener since 1991 and improved to 9-0 in the first round under coach Matthew Mitchell.
Kentucky: Plays the Maine-North Carolina State winner on Monday in the second round.
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