Kansas Holds Off Illinois State, 75-72 In WNIT Semifinals

April 1, 2009

Box Score | Quotes | Notes |

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Junior Danielle McCray and sophomore Krysten Boogaard combined for 49 points to lead the Kansas women’s basketball team to a 75-72 victory over the Illinois State Redbirds in front of 8,360 fans in the semifinals of the WNIT. In what was a back-and-forth battle throughout, with three ties and nine lead changes, the Jayhawks were able to fend off a furious second half rally from Illinois State to advance to the Championship game.

The Jayhawks will play in the Championship game versus the South Florida Bulls, who advanced on Wednesday evening by defeating Boston College, 82-65. Tip-off is scheduled for 1 p.m., in Allen Fieldhouse.

Boogaard got the Jayhawks going early in each half and finished the game with 18 points, seven rebounds and three blocks, while McCray was her usual self pouring in 31 points and pulling down six rebounds.

Illinois State took a three point lead, their largest lead of the game, at the 9:40 mark in the first half, leading 17-14. The Jayhawks fought back with an 11-2 run over the next 4:22 to take a 26-19 lead and finished the half with a 31-25 lead.

KU overcame nine turnovers in the first half by shooting 58 percent from the floor on 14-of-24 shooting, while holding the Redbirds to just 35 percent on 11-of-31 shooting.

The Jayhawks burst out of the gate in the second half on a 13-3 run over the first 4:18 seconds of the half to open up a 17 point lead, 48-31, KU’s largest lead of the game. The Redbirds would not go down without a fight and were able to claw back into the game in the second half, slowly chipping away at the Jayhawk lead. Illinois State would use a couple of short second half runs of 13-to-5 and 7-to-0 to trim the lead.

Clutch free throw shooting by McCray and sophomore forward Nicollette Smith down the stretch helped seal the victory for the Jayhawks. Illinois State closed the lead to 61-59 at the 3:35 mark of the second half on two free throws by Nicolle Lewis, but the Jayhawks held off the Redbirds, shooting 10-of-11 from the free throw line in the closing minutes. Smith knocked down 7-of-8 attempts from the charity stripe to tie her career high in makes at seven and set a new career high in attempts with eight.

The Jayhawks made more free throws than their opponent attempted for the second straight game, going 24-of-30 from the line compared to Illinois State, which shot 17-21 from the charity stripe.

Freshman forward Aishah Sutherland came off the bench to score nine points and pull down seven rebounds and junior Sade Morris added eight points and dished out six assists. Senior guard Ivana Catic dished out six assists and turned the ball over three times to give her 38 assists and only six turnovers in her last six games.

The 8,360 fans made up the fifth largest attendance for a women’s basketball game in Allen Fieldhouse history. Tickets for Saturday’s game are available at www.kuathletics.com, or by calling 1-800-34HAWKS. Adult tickets for Saturday’s game are on sale for $10, while youth tickets are $8. KU students will be admitted for free with a valid ID.