Rhyne Howard joins Elite Company on Sunday

Kentucky All-American Women’s Basketball Rhyne howard delivered many magical moments during his four years at Lexington. But Sunday against Winthrop, Howard may have finally outdone herself.

Howard became the third player in Kentucky women’s basketball history to record a triple-double. That’s double digits in three statistical categories, most commonly points, rebounds, and assists.

Leslie Nichols achieved the first triple-double in UK history. In 1986 against Louisville, Nichols had 18 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

Makayla Epps scored Kentucky’s second triple-double. Against Morehead State in 2015, Epps had 21 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds.

Almost exactly six years later, Howard joined the British triple-double club. Entering the fourth quarter, she had the points but still needed two assists and two rebounds to get the triple-double. British head coach Kyra Elzy All-American told her she had limited time to try and get to where she wanted to go.

“She wanted (assists and rebounds) bad,” Elzy said. “I took her out and she said ‘coach I only need two rebounds and two assists’ and I was like’ you have about a minute and a half to do that.

With 8:41 left in the game, Howard rebounded from a missed shot by Myra Strickland of Winthrop. Howard took the rebound and rushed to the other end of the floor, diving into a cut Robyn benton, who made the lay-up. Howard got a rebound and a triple-double pass.

On the next possession, Strickland drove to the basket and missed and Howard again claimed the rebound, his 10e in the competition. Once again she lifted off the ground and again found Benton, who shot, giving the UK an 81-32 lead. But more importantly, those games gave Howard 10 rebounds and 10 assists with his 22 points.

It’s just another in Howard’s long list of UK accomplishments, according to Elzy.

“So proud of Rhyne,” Elzy said. “It’s just another honor to add to the long list she already has at the University of Kentucky. It’s a confidence builder for her.

Elzy also liked the mentality the triple-double brought to Howard.

“She was excited about it, it was something she was concerned about,” Elzy said. “And I thought that made her more aggressive today, which is good.”

The soft-spoken Howard couldn’t quite explain how she had gotten into such a rare tune on Sunday.

“It’s awesome, honestly,” Howard said. “I just feel like I set a good example for my teammates today. Show them that they work hard consistently.”

Howard’s teammates knew where she was before the last stanza of the game.

“We knew. As we approached the fourth quarter, we said ‘Rhyne, go get yours’ and that’s exactly what she did,” said the UK. Dre’una Edwards noted. “Go ahead and do your thing, and she did.”

Howard is the two-time reigning SEC Player of the Year, a top contender for National Player of the Year, is sixth on the UK’s all-time scorers list, second on average career, third in goals scored by three points and eighth in school history in double-doubles (19). But her Sunday game might have been the best she’s had in a Kentucky uniform.

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