🏀 Jayhawks Use Big 2nd Half to Secure Win Against BYU at Big 12 Championship

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Kansas Jayhawks flexed their muscles in the second half Friday night at T-Mobile Center, beating BYU 77-53 to advance to the quarterfinals of the 2024 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship.

Leading by two at halftime, Kansas outscored BYU by 22 (42-20) in the second half and saw all five starters finish the game in double figures for the first time this season.

Senior Zakiyah Franklin led the way with 20 points on 8-for-11 shooting to notch her second 20-point game of the season against the Cougars. Wyvette Mayberry finished with 14, while S’Mya Nichols had 13. Taiyanna Jackson scored 12 points and Holly Kersgieter added 11 in the win.

The win snaps a four-game losing streak for the Jayhawks in the Big 12 Championship and is KU’s first win at the event since 2019. The 24-point margin of victory by Kansas is its second-largest ever in a Big 12 Championship game.

The seventh-seeded Jayhawks improved to 19-11 on the season, while BYU fell to 16-16. Kansas will look to advance to the semifinals on Friday with a 5:30 p.m., matchup against second-seeded Texas.

“I thought our guys really adjusted well defensively late in the second quarter and then on into the second half in terms of just doing a better job of guarding the ball, protecting the paint,” Kansas coach Brandon Schneider said postgame. “I thought BYU was terrific early in the game in attacking the paint and forcing us into a lot of situations where we had to rotate. Once we shored that up, I was proud of how we defended.”

Both teams started the game with respective runs. The Jayhawks opened the game on a 7-0 stretch, thanks to a 3-pointer from Mayberry and a pair of buckets from Jackson. BYU answered right back with an 8-0 run in just 52 seconds to grab a one-point lead. Kansas ended the run with a Jackson bucket and eventually took an 11-10 lead into the first media timeout.

The Cougars opened up a 19-15 lead in the final minute of the first quarter after Amari Whiting converted one of two free throws. But Franklin answered back with a jumper to cut the lead to two at 19-17, which held up to be the score at the end of the opening frame. Both teams shot better than 50 percent from the floor in the first with Kansas notching six assists on its first seven baskets of the game.

The start of the second quarter copied the first quarter with the game staying close and neither team leading by more than six. The Cougars took a 23-17 lead less than two minutes into the game, but baskets from Franklin and Kersgieter cut the lead back to two. After a BYU 3-pointer, Nichols knocked down a pair of free throws to get it back to three. The two teams then exchanged baskets, with Franklin scoring on a layup to give her eight early points and cut the lead to 28-25 at the second quarter media timeout.

With just more than three minutes remaining in the half, BYU hit its fifth 3-pointer to give the Cougars a 31-25 lead. But the Jayhawks came alive after that in a big way. Kansas went on a 10-0 run. Nichols started it with a free throw before Franklin scored four straight points to make it 31-30, BYU. Kansas then took a lead at 32-31, its first lead since it was 14-13 in the first quarter. The Jayhawks stretched the lead to three on another Franklin bucket, which gave her 14 in the first half.

After a Kersgieter free throw, BYU broke the 10-0 run with a bucket in the final seconds of the half to make it 35-33, Kansas, at the break.

Following the strong finish to the first half, Kansas kept its foot on the gas to start the second half. The Jayhawks quickly stretched their lead to six thanks to back-to-back buckets from Franklin and Jackson. Following a BYU basket, Kersgieter nailed a 3-pointer to make it a seven-point lead, and then a little more than a minute later, Jackson made it an eight-point lead with a layup from Jackson.

The lead stretched to 10 at the 3:52 mark of the third quarter when Nichols connected on a jumper to make it 48-38. She was fouled on the play and hit the free throw, before Kersgieter hit another 3-pointer to make it 52-38 and put Kansas on a 27-7 run. BYU ended the run and cut the lead to 11 at the end of the third quarter at 56-45. The Jayhawks shot 8-for-12 from the floor in the third quarter with Kersgieter scoring eight in the frame.

Kansas stayed hot in the fourth quarter, outscoring BYU 21-8 and shooting 57 percent from the floor and a perfect 2-for-2 from deep to secure the second-round victory.