🏀 Jayhawks Drop Contest With No. 19/21 West Virginia

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Holly Kersgieter scored a career-high 25 points and the Kansas Jayhawks went toe-to-toe with No. 19 West Virginia Wednesday night before ultimately falling 69-61.

Kersgieter was 9 of 19 from the floor and 6 of 7 from the free throw line to best her previous career high of 24. She also added six rebounds and four steals in a solid all-around effort for Kansas.

The Jayhawks jumped out in front of the host Mountaineers grabbing a 10-4 lead two and a half minutes into the contest. Zakiyah Franklin capped that run with a jumper for a six-point lead. West Virginia responded with a 15-0 run, however, to go up 19-10 with just less than three minutes left in the opening frame. West Virginia built on that lead and led 23-12 after the first.

Kansas didn’t go away and continued to come back at West Virginia in the second quarter. Trailing 31-20, Aniya Thomas and Kersgieter converted on back-to-back layups to get the Jayhawks within seven at 31-24.

Kersgieter hit a layup with 2:53 to play in the half to make it a five-point game at 33-28. Her layup followed a putback from post Chisom Ajekwu. West Virginia again responded and extended its lead to 11, but a Kersgieter jumper with 1:29 left in the half served as the final points of the second quarter and made it 39-30 heading into the halftime break.

West Virginia upped its lead to 16 points at one point in the third, but Kansas had a response ready. Aniya Thomas hit a 3-pointer and Kersgieter followed with two free throws to close the gap to eight at 49-41. Kansas got it a point closer to seven, but West Virginia managed to extend its lead back to 10 heading into the fourth. Kersgieter had 20 points heading into the final quarter on 8 of 16 shooting.

Trailing by 10 with 1:57 to play, Kersgieter canned a 3-pointer from the corner off a pass from Thomas and was fouled in the process. She hit her free throw to make it a six-point game at 63-57. Following a West Virginia turnover, Franklin was fouled and hit both of her free throws to cut it to four.

Kansas again got it to four points with 24 seconds left on two Tina Stephens free throws, but never got any closer. Stephens finished with 11 points and a pair of steals in the setback. Thomas, who coach Brandon Schneider singled out for her defensive effort, also added nine points on the offensive end.

On today’s performance …
I was really proud of our toughness and grit. I thought we played really hard every possession. They put us in a position to be in the game at the end. Aniya Thomas was terrific defensively. (Kysre) Gondrezick got off to a fast start and we made an adjustment. Aniya competed hard in that matchup.

On the comeback attempt …
We stuck to the plan and our defense turned up in the second half. We were able to get some things accomplished in transition. The job we did initially on (Kysre) Gondrezick was really important. Holly was really disappointed that she missed some threes that she had some good looks at. That is a very physical team for her to put up those type of numbers speaks to her development and progress as a player.

The Jayhawks play next on Saturday at Kansas State in the Dillons Sunflower Showdown. Tip is scheduled for 1 p.m.