KU Women's Basketball Falls In WNIT Championship Game
April 4, 2009
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With a record crowd of 16,113, which had the decibel level in Allen Fieldhouse reaching more than 100 at the opening tip, Kansas fell 75-71 to South Florida in the championship game of the Women’s National Invitation Basketball Tournament Saturday afternoon.
Jazmine Sepulveda scored a team-high 18 points, including a key basket with 26 seconds remaining, to lead USF. Danielle McCray scored a game-high 24 points, while Sade Morris added 19, Aishah Sutherland 12 and Krysten Boogard 10 for Kansas.
Kansas fell to 22-14 on the season, while USF improved to 27-10 in claiming the title on the road. The Bulls won their final three WNIT games all on the road.
Kansas battled back from 12-point deficits several times in the second half. Trailing 65-53, McCray scored four straight points and after a USF basket, KU senior Ivana Catic drained a three-pointer and Sutherland converted a three-point play to pull KU within 68-62 at the 3:48 mark.
A USF turnover thrilled the crowd and the Jayhawks responded with a three-pointer by Morris on the following possession to pull within 67-64. Boogard’s layup on KU’s next possession made it 67-66 USF and brought the decibel level in Allen Fieldhouse to more than 100 once again.
Leading 70-67 with 51 seconds left in the game, USF worked the clock down to 26 seconds and found Sepulveda for a short jumper to make it 72-67 as the Bulls held on for the road victory.
After shooting at least 49 percent from the field in its previous four WNIT games, KU shot just 37.9 percent from the field. Meanwhile, USF hit 44.8 percent and made five-of-10 three-pointers.
The Jayhawks jumped out to a quick 4-0 in front of its largest crowd for a women’s basketball game, topping the previous mark of 13,352 vs. Colorado in 1994. The attendance number was also a Big 12 record for a women’s basketball game.
However, USF outscored the Jayhawks 16-2 over the next six minutes sparked by back-to-back three-pointers by Sepulveda.
Boogaard hit back-to-back baskets and McCray drilled two three-pointers and a layup to ignite an 18-7 Kansas rally which gave the Jayhawks a 24-23 lead.
McCray’s first three-pointer came after she had missed eight straight shots. Her layup capped a six-shot possession for the Jayhawks as KU hit the offensive boards hard.
KU finished the first half with 14 offensive rebounds and tied the visitors with 20 total rebounds apiece in the first 20 minutes of play.
USF closed the first half on a 12-2 run to take a 38-30 advantage into the lockerroom. The Bulls scored the first four points of the second half to push the margin to 42-30 before KU stopped the bleeding with three straight baskets by Sade Morris.
KU chipped away at USF’s 12-point lead and got within five at 52-47 after two McCray free throws at the 10:26 mark. However, consecutive turnovers by the Jayhawks helped USF push the margin back to 11 at 58-47.
KU’s 22 wins were its most in a season since the 1999 team went 23-10.