Kansas Drops Big 12 Home Opener to Mountaineers, 65-45
Coach Brandon’s Press Conference
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s basketball outscored West Virginia by five points in the fourth quarter, but could not mount a comeback, falling to the Mountaineers, 65-45, Sunday evening inside Allen Fieldhouse.
The offensive production came too late for Kansas (5-8, 0-2 Big 12) against the Mountaineers. Through three quarters of action, only four Jayhawks were in the scoring column and Kansas faced a 25-point deficit. Four more Jayhawks found the bottom of the net in the final period, but the West Virginia was able to sustain its lead for its first conference victory of the season.
West Virginia (12-3, 1-1 Big 12) saw senior guard Jessica Morton come off the bench to score a game-high 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including a perfect 3-of-3 from distance. Senior guard Bria Holmes, the Mountaineers’ leading scorer in 2015-16, was held to only 13 points after entering the contest averaging 17.4 points per game. Junior center Lanay Montgomery, the conference’s leading blocker, recorded four of the visitors’ eight blocks.
The Jayhawks were led by sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge, who logged 16 points on 50 percent shooting from the field, including all three of the team’s long-range baskets. Sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle led Kansas in rebounds with seven boards after earning her fifth start of the season. Junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen and freshman guard Kylee Kopatich each tallied seven points.
Junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen drives to the basket
The Mountaineers opened the game on a 9-2 run, sinking four-consecutive field goals. Each team could only connect on two of its next eight attempts, with West Virginia carrying a 14-7 lead into the final minute of the first quarter. Aldridge hit Kansas’ first three-pointer of the contest just before the end of the shot clock to cut the deficit to four, and then held the Mountaineers scoreless on their final possession of the quarter to bring the score to 14-10 after ten minutes of action.
Over the first five minutes of the second period, West Virginia tried to extend its lead with long-range baskets, shooting 3-of-5 from beyond the arc. Aldridge put in her second triple and Manning-Allen matched the effort with her second layup of the day, keeping the Jayhawks within six points of WVU with five minutes left in the half.
The Jayhawks concluded the half on the receiving end of a 13-0 run, shooting 0-of-7 from the field and committing seven turnovers. The Mountaineers collected 16 points off of Kansas’ 15 turnovers in the first half, pushing their lead to 36-17 with two quarters left to play.
Kansas faced its largest halftime deficit of the season to begin the third quarter, and continued to struggle with turnovers. Three giveaways in the first five minutes of the period helped West Virginia put together a 8-0 scoring streak, as the lead reached 25 points at the 5:07 mark. Five-consecutive points from Aldridge quickly brought the score back to 46-26 with four minutes left in the quarter. A made free throw from freshman guard Aisia Robertson broke a 6-0 run from West Virginia to end the period.
After being held scoreless over the first 30 minutes of action, Kopatich found a rhythm in the fourth quarter and tallied seven points in just over five minutes. Freshman guards Jayde Christopher and Robertson, as well as junior forward Jada Brown, also recorded their first made field goals of the game in the fourth period, each with a layup.
Kansas shot a perfect 6-of-6, while holding the Mountaineers to just two points, over the last 3:24 of the game. The late offensive surge brought the score to 65-45 at the final buzzer in favor of West Virginia.
KANSAS 45 // WEST VIRGINIA 65
JAN. 3, 2016 – LAWRENCE, Kan.
•West Virginia now leads the all-time series, 5-4.
•The Jayhawks drop to 2-3 against WVU in Allen Fieldhouse.
•Kansas now possesses a 119-195 all-time record against Big 12 Conference foes.
•Kansas has a record of 410-170 in Allen Fieldhouse all-time. This season, the Jayhawks are an even 4-4 on their home court.
•Head coach Brandon Schneider and staff employed the starting lineup of sophomore G Lauren Aldridge, freshman G Jayde Christopher, sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle, junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen and freshman G Kylee Kopatich. It is the first time this season those five have been in the starting lineup together for the Jayhawks.
•Even in defeat, the Jayhawks outrebounded the visiting Mountaineers by a tally of 32 boards to 28. KU pulled down 10 offensive and 22 defensive rebounds on the afternoon.
•Kansas’ 17 first-half points tied a season low, when the Jayhawks managed three shy of 20 points vs. UMKC on December 10, 2015.
•West Virginia’s 19-point halftime lead, 36-17, was Kansas’ largest deficit of the season after the first 20 minutes of action.
•Kansas has trailed heading into the halftime break seven times this season and is 1-6 when behind after the first 20 minutes of play.
•KU’s bench was held scoreless in the first half. For the game, the Jayhawks’ bench contributed just seven points. West Virginia’s bench, on the other hand, scored 31.
•Kansas faced its largest deficit of the season, of 26 points, during the third quarter of action when the Mountaineers went ahead 52-26 with 1:11 to play.
•Of Kansas’ 10 points in the first quarter of action, the starting duo of Lauren Aldridge and Chayla Cheadle scored six and four, respectively.
•Just three Jayhawks contributed points in the first half of play. Aldridge led the way with nine with Cheadle and Caelynn Manning-Allen added four apiece.
•Aldridge was the Jayhawks’ overall leader in the scoring column for the seventh time this season with her 16 points Sunday afternoon. It was the 10th time in 13 games this season that the sophomore guard has scored in double-figures for KU.
•Freshman guard Kylee Kopatich got on the board in the fourth quarter with a free throw, ending her scoreless streak. She’s now scored in every game this season. Sunday afternoon she contributed seven points, just the third time this season she has not scored in double figures.
•Junior forward Jada Brown tied her season and career high of two assists on back-to-back plays in the second quarter alone.
Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider
“For the positives, I was really pleased with how we defended Bria Holmes. I thought we really made her work. She is one of the premier players in our conference and in the country. Coming off of the Oklahoma game, where we gave up so much inside, really concerned us and I felt that we did a pretty good job there. For the negatives, obviously, the second quarter. I think we took really quick shots and committed turnovers that allowed them to get out into transition. The second quarter was a big difference in the ball game.”
On what is causing turnovers for Kansas:
“Well for one, that’s just West Virginia. Very few teams press anymore and West Virginia still does. They are long and athletic, and we struggled moving it from side to side against that. Also, our decision making wasn’t great but a lot of that is credited to West Virginia. We get a little sped up sometimes and, I really need to stop saying that these are youthful mistakes, but that is the first thing that comes to mind.”
On only having a few players score through the first half:
“I think we said back in the summer that this program graduated 62 percent of it’s scoring from a year ago. Some guys’ roles were going to have to be much different and we were going to have to find out where our offense was going to come from. I thought that Lauren (Aldridge) had a really good night. This was back-to-back games where we got Caelynn (Manning-Allen) the ball two feet from the rim and we just haven’t been able to finish. If you look at it schematically, I like what we are doing and where we are getting the ball, we just have to do a better job or finishing whether it’s around the rim or from the free-throw line. We were 4-for-10 from the line through our first 10 free throws. When you’re a team that struggles to finish, you have to finish around the rim and make your free throws.”
On today’s offense:
“I think in the first half, especially the second quarter, we really strayed off of what we wanted to do offensively. We wanted to make West Virginia work and move from side to side a little bit. See if we can get them to make a mistake and maybe we can capitalize. Instead, I thought we shot it too quick. We have a lot of small guys on our team and we’re taking a lot of shots right now versus people who are a lot bigger than us and those shots are being altered or coming back at us. I think that’s a pretty good example of that not being the best shot we could get.”
On West Virginia’s defense:
“I think that West Virginia and all of the switching, you could just see that where we were at out on the floor, they had us probably four or five feet off of the spots that we like to play to. Credit to them for playing that style of defense, that’s the style of defense that I like to play. They were able to force turnovers but also able to disrupt our rhythm by getting us off of our spots.”
On the upcoming game against Baylor:
“It’s why players come to schools like this, so they can play the very best.”
Kansas sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge
On her mindset today:
“It’s Big 12 play, so every game is motivation. I have to come out prepared with a good mindset each game and try to get a win.”
On West Virginia’s defense:
“They’re very long, very big so, obviously, that’s going to disrupt a little bit. I feel like if we would just stick to what we know and pay more attention to detail, it wouldn’t affect us as much. For example, something as simple as putting your foot in the charge arc and then coming off of a screen makes a huge difference and I don’t feel as a team we paid attention to detail, so that caused their length and their pressure to disrupt us more.”
On the upcoming game against Baylor:
“Baylor is good. Baylor is always going to be good. I think that, yet again, you can’t look at who they are, we need to evaluate ourselves and what we do, get back to doing what we do best. It shouldn’t make a difference for any of us. They’re the opposing team and we don’t like them whether they have Baylor on their chest or they have, I don’t know, any school. We have to go out and play hard every game.”
Kansas sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle
On adjustments after today’s loss:
“It’s frustrating when you can’t get the shots that you want. As a team, we have to learn to come together at those times and fight through and figure out what we need to do, like run the offense deeper and get the looks that we want.”
On the upcoming game against Baylor:
“We know this is going to be a big game for us. Every game is a big game for us, especially this season but I think we’re really excited to play and we just need to do what we know how to do and get out there and execute.”
West Virginia head coach Mike Carey
“You know, especially, in the first half I thought defensively we did what we needed to do, but in the second half we stood around a little bit. Kansas is very young, we are too. If you look at our roster, 11 out of 14 are new to our squad this year. I think we have seven freshman, so we’re young also. You saw some inexperience out there and not a lot of execution at times but both teams played extremely hard. He (Brandon Schneider) going to do a great job here. I was impressed with Jessica (Morton) coming off the bench and did very well and so did Desiree Rhodes. We have a couple of injuries in the paint, one didn’t dress so we were shorthanded and she came in and did a good job
On creating turnover opportunities:
“That’s what we do, we have to create turnovers. Our offense is only good if we are creating turnovers and getting layups on the other end. We got to create that and disrupt, we just can’t sit in there. We’re not big enough, we have to disrupt offenses and try to get out in the passing lanes.”
On Jessica Morton’s performance:
Well she is a veteran, it didn’t surprise me to be honest with you. She is playing hard and if she continues, she plays. I don’t determine playing time, they do. They get on the floor, play hard. If you play hard, you play a lot of minutes. You don’t play hard, you will sit and Jessica is playing extremely hard, under control and doing a great job for us.
West Virginia senior guard Jessica Morton
On her performance:
“I was just focused. I was thinking about what coach said, ‘If you play defense, you will play more.’ That was biggest focused. We just came out aggressive and executed.”
The Jayhawks return to Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Jan. 6 to face the Baylor Bears at 7 p.m. Fans can follow along on the Jayhawk Television Network and ESPN3, or over the airwaves on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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