LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Maci Morris made seven of eight free throws in the final 37 seconds, including two with 3.2 seconds remaining, to help fourth-seeded Kentucky edge No. 13 Belmont 73-70 victory on Friday in a first-round game of the NCAA Tournament.
Wildcats seniors Makayla Epps and Evelyn Akhator did their parts to get Kentucky ahead with 52 combined points that were needed to hold off the determined Bruins. Belmont got within 69-68 on two Sally McCabe free throws with 13 seconds remaining.
Morris was already clicking 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.
Darby Maggard was defended well and shot an off-balance 3 that missed as the horn sounded to end Belmont's school-record 21-game winning streak.
Epps scored 30 with a career-high five 3-pointers while Akhator added 22.
THE BIG PICTURE
Belmont: Unfazed by double-digit deficits in hostile territory, the Bruins stuck with the plan and made things close throughout and create final opportunities to win. Maggard's had to work through two Wildcats on her final shot and finished with 15 points. Kylee Smith had 23 and Sally McCabe 16 for the Bruins.
Kentucky: Epps' shooting got the Wildcats started in both halves, the most important contribution with consecutives 3s out of the break in a 16-3 run that changed the momentum. All of her points came in handy, though not as much as Morris' points from the line as the 88-percent shooter delivered.
Kentucky faces the Western Kentucky vs. Ohio State winner in the second round on Sunday.