Gardner Leads Jayhawks Past Huskers, 57-49, to Advance in NCAA Tournament
March 18, 2012
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.–Led by a career night from freshman Chelsea Gardner, the Kansas women’s basketball team took down No. 17 Nebraska, 57-49, to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Kansas improved to 20-12 overall while Nebraska finished its season at 24-9.
Gardner finished the contest with a career-high 15 points and career-high 16 rebounds. Her rebound total tied for the most rebounds by a KU player in the NCAA Tournament.
Junior Angel Goodrich also posted a double-digit scoring effort, contributing a game-high 20 points, five assists and five rebounds. Senior Aishah Sutherland had eight points and freshmen Natalie Knight and Asia Boyd each chipped in five.
After leading by as many as 10 during the contest, KU fought off the Huskers in the last two minutes of the game. With Kansas up by six, Sutherland battled her way through a double team to score a contested layup, but Nebraska countered with a three-pointer to cut KU’s lead back down to five, 47-52, with 1:28 remaining. Goodrich hit another layup, and then the Huskers began fouling.
With 31.9 seconds to go, the Talequah, Okla., native calmly knocked down both free throws to give the Jayhawks a nine-point advantage. Gardner hit one-of-two charity shots to ensure victory for the Crimson and Blue.
Kansas held Nebraska to just 5.3 percent from behind the arc on the night, off of 1-of-19 three-point shooting. KU shot 37.9 percent overall behind a 41.9 percent shooting effort in the second period.
In the first half, the Jayhawks relied on the Gardner early, going to the freshman forward for their first seven points. Goodrich then took over on both ends of the floor, contributing eight of KU’s next nine points and making a key block under the Husker basket. Another layup from Gardner made it a two-point ballgame in Kansas’ favor, 18-16 with 6:03 to play in the opening period.
KU’s freshman class became crucial during the later parts of the first half. After the team missed their first seven attempts, Knight hit a three as the shot clock expired to give the Jayhawks a five-point advantage. Freshmen Boyd and Bunny Williams knocked in five points and two points, respectively, to send KU into the lockerroom with a 28-20 lead.
At the break, Gardner led all scorers with 10 of her 15 points and six of her 16 rebounds. Goodrich contributed eight points in the first twenty minutes. KU defended the arc in the opening half, not allowing a three from Nebraska in five attempts.
Kansas began the second half making plays on each end of the court. Sutherland made her first points of the game on a layup, then connected on a huge block for the Jayhawks to keep it at a 10-point lead. After a jumper from Nebraska and a miss on the offensive end for KU, Goodrich retaliated with a steal and fast-break layup with make it 32-22 with 16:11 to play.
Nebraska responded with a quick run to make it 38-33, KU, before Sutherland put a stop to the series with a mid-range jumper and a layup to give the Jayhawks a nine-point advantage with 6:51 to play.
The Huskers came back with another run to make cut KU’s lead to four, 44-40 with less than four minutes to go in the game. The two teams exchanged baskets before Knight grabbed a steal and broke away for a layup to make it 50-42, Kansas, before KU fought to victory in the last few minutes.
The Jayhawks will face Delaware in the Second Round on Tuesday at the Jack Stephens Center in Little Rock, Ark. Tip-off is set for 8:40 p.m.