Kansas Drops Conference Home Opener to Oklahoma, 69-57
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Every time Kansas found a spark, Oklahoma was there to halt the momentum and shift it back the Sooner’s way, as the Jayhawks fell in their Big 12 home opener on Wednesday night inside Allen Fieldhouse.
The senior duo of Natalie Knight and Asia Boyd led Kansas’ scoring efforts as both were in double digits. Knight was at the top with 15 points and was one rebound shy of a double-double with nine boards, while Boyd added 13 points for the Jayhawks. Kansas (9-6, 0-2) shot 44 percent from field goal range after connecting on 23-for-52. The bench shined with 19 points compared to seven Sooner bench points.
“All you need to do is look at the Free throws,” Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “We shot three, they shot 27. Teams that are aggressive and attack get to the free throw line. Offensive rebounds, score in transition and throw it inside and drive; we didn’t do much of that. We answered a run in the first half, but came out of the locker room and they got separation other than those free throws at the end which ends up deciding the game. We can’t have stretches like that.”
Sophomore guard Gioya Carter led with 19 points and was one of three Sooners to score in double figures. Redshirt-sophomore guard Peyton Little had 17 points, while redshirt-junior center Kaylon Williams put up 14 points. Kansas’ defense held the Sooner’s leading scorer, Sharane Campbell-Olds, who averages 12 points, to just four points. Oklahoma (8-5, 2-0) was also held to a below average field goal percentage of 41 percent behind a 24-for-58 shooting mark.
The Sooners drained three three-point shots within the first four minutes of the game to gain an early lead 11-6. It took OU nearly two minutes to get up a shot, but then shots began to fall easily as Oklahoma wouldn’t miss a bucket until the 14-minute mark. The Jayhawks’ defense forced Oklahoma into a three-minute scoring drought, during which Knight knocked in five points for Kansas to tie up the game. Oklahoma continued to struggle making shots, going 1-for-8 from the field throughout four minutes.
Then Kansas experienced a silence of its own, allowing Oklahoma to keep control of the lead. Freshman guard Lauren Aldridge ended OU’s run with back-to-back treys. But KU continued to struggle, allowing OU to go on a 10-2 run and build its advantage to 19-28.
With the help of a layup from sophomore forward Caelynn Manning-Allen, the Jayhawks sparked a 9-2 run of their own, during which Gardner successfully completed a traditional three-point play to get the crowd back into the game. This run helped the Jayhawks come back within two, but they weren’t able to gain back the lead before the halftime break. Oklahoma led at the end of the first 20 minutes, 30-28. Knight led Kansas’ offensive efforts in the first half with nine points and five rebounds. The two teams were neck-and-neck from the field as Oklahoma shot 13-for-31 (42 percent) and Kansas went 12-for-29 in the first frame.
The second half did not start in favor of the Jayahwks, as Oklahoma put up 10 unanswered points in the first five minutes. But things shifted quickly after two shots made by Boyd, which helped Kansas to come back within seven, 36-43.
The Sooners and the Jayhawks then began to trade baskets, each making shots on their respective ends of the court. Then OU took off again sinking 3-of-3 shots from the field. KU refused to give up without a fight. A pair of free throws sent Boyd into the double-digit mark. Knight quickly followed with the same feat due to draining her second three-point basket of the night. After trailing by as much as 13, Kansas was back within seven.
A late three-pointer by Knight would diminish the Oklahoma lead to just six points, but the Jayhawks were unable to overcome the Sooners in the final seconds as they fell, 69-57.
- Kansas’ defense held the Sooners’ leading scorer, Sharane Campbell-Olds, to just four points. The senior guard averages 12.1 points per game.
- Senior guard Natalie Knight was just shy of her second double-double with 15 points and nine rebounds. She tallied her 12th game this season in double figures.
- Finishing with 13 points, senior guard Asia Boyd posted her seventh game scoring 10 or more points during the 2014-15 campaign.
- Collectively, the Jayhawks held the Sooners to an under-average shooting percentage of 41 percent. Before Wednesday’s game, Oklahoma was second in the Big 12 for scoring offense, averaging 78 points per game.
Kansas takes the road to face in-state rival Kansas State on Sunday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m., inside Bramlage Coliseum.
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