Gardner's Historic Day Leads Kansas Over West Virginia, 65-59
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the first time in over 33 years a Kansas women’s basketball player reached the 20-point, 20-rebound plateau. Senior forward Chelsea Gardner’s exact 20-point, 20-rebound performance was instrumental in leading the charge over West Virginia, 65-59 as Kansas won its second comeback game in a row Saturday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse for the annual superhero game.
The DeSoto, Texas native already had 10 points and eight rebounds by the end of the first half on her way to totaling the most rebounds in a game by a Kansas player since 2012. Gardner finished 9-for-14 from the field while also swatting two shots. Two other Jayhawks posted double figures as senior guards Asia Boyd and Natalie Knight and had 15 and 14 points, respectively. Freshman guard Lauren Aldridge tied her career-high eight assists and added five steals. Kansas (11-9, 2-5) shot 44 percent from field goal range behind making 24-of-55 attempts.
“Honestly, I thought we were aggressive around her and she got some on a dump,” head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “If you think about it, we have sets and isolation plays for Chelsea, but people are good in this league and we run them seldom. Certainly, I think (Chelsea) Gardner did a great job for us, but I don’t think we threw it in to her all night.”
West Virginia (12-7, 2-5) was held to 34 percent from the field with a 24-for-63 mark. Three Mountaineers chalked up double figures and were led by junior guard Bria Holmes, who had 16 points. Senior forward Averee Fields and junior guard Jessica Morton each posted 10 points.
“Both teams were stuck in the mud offensively, honestly,” Henrickson said. “We made some momentum plays on the defensive end. I told them, ‘guys, we got good looks and no one took a bad one, keep shooting it.’ That’s what everyone told Knight and she got two big ones right in front of our bench. They have so much confidence in each other to be able to say that and for all of us to the feel the same way. And we’ve got to play that way, and I haven’t always done that in the past. I thought we had good looks in the first half that just didn’t go down.”
West Virginia started with an early lead by putting up five unanswered points. Kansas caught up and took over just before the four-minute mark as the result of a 7-0 run. Although the Mountaineers were kept scoreless for roughly two minutes, they made a response to Kansas’ run as the two teams traded baskets.
Kansas fell into an offensive slump and made only 2-of-12 attempts from the field and by this point West Virginia had the lead again, 20-15. The Jayhawks were falling behind the Mountaineers with a 7-for-23 total mark thus far in the game. WVU also had seven points off of KU turnovers. In the following minutes, Kansas was forced into a scoring drought that lasted over four minutes without a field goal.
Gardner came to Kansas’ rescue with a layup in the paint to end the silence, but West Virginia had managed to build a 10-point lead by this point. However, the Jayhawks sparked some momentum by getting stops on defense, which helped them decrease the lead. Knight knocked in a jumper at the buzzer heading into the halftime break, but her efforts weren’t enough to take over the lead just yet. West Virginia took the advantage into halftime, 32-28.
Gardner led all scorers thus far with 10 points and eight rebounds. The Jayhawks were held to just 36 percent from the field behind a 12-for-33 shooting effort. The Mountaineers ended the first frame with a 13-for-30 mark and 43 percent from the field. At the break, Kansas collected a game-high 23 rebounds.
Garnder completed a jumper and brought Kansas within two to start the final 20 minutes of action. The two teams then took turns making shots for the next few minutes, helping WVU keep control. The Mountaineers managed to keep a consistent lead of just four points. That is, until they couldn’t answer Jayhawk points and entered into a four-minute scoring drought. This handed Kansas the opportunity to tie the game, 38-38.
West Virginia didn’t allow Kansas to take over the lead just yet, knocking in back-to-back buckets. But Kansas was close on its heels and with nearly 10 minutes left Aldridge connected a long pass to Boyd, who drained a layup and gave Kansas its first lead since early in the game.
The two teams entered into a scoring battle, tying and trading leads. The Jayhawks found an offensive groove, knocking in 8-of-8 shots from the field, including two three-pointers from Knight, which gave Kansas it’s largest lead of the game, 56-50.
Both teams had two players with three or more fouls and were making more trips to the charity line. Kansas also struggled keeping control of the ball and committed three turnovers in less than two minutes. Time ticked away and the game remained close, Kansas up by six points with less than two minutes to play.
West Virginia attempted to fight back and narrow Kansas’ lead by forcing fouls, but ultimately wasn’t able to overcome KU’s advantage. The Jayhawks closed out the victory, 65-59, for its second-straight win.
- Senior forward Chelsea Gardner’s 20 points and 20 rebounds marked the first time a Kansas player has reached the 20-point-20-rebound club since Tracey Claxton registered 36 points and 28 boards on Nov. 21, 1981.
- The last time a Kansas player reached the 20-rebound mark occurred on Jan. 18, 2012 when Aishah Sutherland snared 22 boards at Oklahoma State.
- Gardner bested her career-high cleaning up the glass with 20 rebounds against West Virginia. Her previous personal-best was 19 rebounds against TCU on March 8, 2013.
- The double-double became the fifth of Gardner’s season and the 23rd of her four-year career.
- Freshman guard Lauren Aldridge tied her career-best after dishing eight assists against West Virginia. She previously assisted on eight baskets at Purdue on Dec. 11, 2014.
- Aldridge also swiped a career-high five possessions from West Virginia.
- Seniors Gardner and Natalie Knight continued their double-digit streak with 20 and 14 points, respectively. They two have scored 10 or more points in 16 of Kansas’ 20 games.
The Jayhawks are set for another road test, this time against Iowa State on Wednesday, Jan. 28 at 7 p.m.
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