Engelman Is Clutch For KU

Feb. 20, 2011


022011aaa_475_4536725.jpegIt has become somewhat of a routine for KU’s Monica Engelman, the Jayhawks are trailing or tied in the final seconds of a game and she nails the bucket that pushes them to overtime or victory. The sophomore guard went through her routine once again on Saturday night in the Jayhawks’ thrilling 75-70 overtime victory against rival Missouri. With 20 seconds left in regulation, KU trailing 62-60, the Jayhawks had one final chance to win or push the game to overtime.

“Honestly (the play) wasn’t even for Monica,” Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson said of the final play in regulation. “She just kept going and turned the corner, and she shot it off the glass which is a tough, tough shot.”

It was a night when Engelman had been shut down for the majority of the game by Missouri’s scrappy defense.

Henrickson credited Missouri senior guard RaeShara Brown for Engelman’s slow start.

022011aaa_475_4536732.jpeg“(RaeShara) Brown was guarding her which was a big part of why she was 1-8 from the field prior to her shot to force overtime,” said Kansas’ seventh-year head coach. “She (Engelman) could never get into a rhythm and never get set.”

It’s obvious that it took big-time confidence for a young player, like Engelman, to take a big-time shot when she’s having a rough game.

After Missouri thwarted any chance for KU to run the play that was drawn up in the huddle, it was time to improvise. With the clock ticking down, Engelman found the ball in her hands and knew she need to make a play.

“We were trying to get a look for Carolyn and the play got busted,” Engelman explained after the game. “I got the ball and I looked up and there were about eight seconds trickling down. So I went and got some momentum and threw a shot up off the glass, and it went in.”

Engelman put up a heavily contested running jump shot, the ball kissed off the glass, and fell through the hoop with 1.9 seconds left. KU had new life, which the team took advantage of and used to eventually win the game in overtime.

After starting the game making just one of her first eight shots from the field, Engelman’s game tying jump-shot kicked off a personal shooting stretch that Missouri could not handle, as she made four of her five attempts in overtime in leading the Jayhawks to their fourth overtime win of the season.

Saturday night’s game-tying shot isn’t the first time KU has needed her late game heroics. After the game, Engelman reminisced about coming up big in late game situations throughout her career.

022011aaa_475_4536737.jpeg“I can remember a few from high school, but it’s kind of vague,” said Engelman, a San Antonio, native. “From my time at KU I can remember last year against Texas, (referring to her three-pointer that pushed that game into overtime), this year against Nebraska (a key three-pointer to force overtime), Fordham (a 10-foot jump shot to push the game to overtime), and obviously this game tonight.”

When asked if she thinks she performs better in late game situations she had a humble response.

“From what you see, it might seem like I perform better,” said Engelman. “I think throughout that stretch late in the game I was more consistent on the defensive end. I try to not make it seem like I play better late in games. I want to be playing like that the entire game so we don’t get in that situation.”

Even though Engelman may say she doesn’t look to play better when the pressure is up, her teammates say she practices that scenario often. Junior Aishah Sutherland knows her teammate looks forward to hitting those big shots for the Jayhawks.

022011aaa_475_4536739.jpeg“She’s always done that for us,” said Sutherland, who contributed six points, five rebounds, four assists and two blocks in the win. “She loves to get that buzzer beater shot. That shot she hit tonight was amazing, she hits it most of the time. She practices it a lot in practice.”

Fellow sophomore guard Angel Goodrich had a similar opinion.

“Monica works on that shot a lot, said Goodrich, who had 14 points and a game-high nine assists in the win. “She not only works on that getting that shot, but she is able to confidently knock it down.”

Engelman has become KU’s leader in crunch time and there’s no doubt that every team needs a player like that on their team, a player who wants the ball when the game is on the line. With the Jayhawks still looking toward an NCAA tournament berth and building momentum down the stretch of the conference season, they will need her big shot abilities every step of the way.