Kansas Falls Short at West Virginia, 59-56
MORGANTOWN, W.V. – Kansas’ midweek match up was the tale of two halves as the Jayhawks posted their best performance in a single half during Big 12 action, but a rough first half proved to be too much to overcome as Kansas fell, 59-56, at West Virginia Tuesday night inside WVU Coliseum.
A strong offensive performance by the Jayhawks in the second half resulted in KU shooting 62 percent for the final frame. Kansas outscored the Mountaineers 41-32 and posted their best-conference half effort all season. In addition, two Jayhawks entered double figures in the final half, but the Jayhawks were unable to overcome its slow start despite bringing the ballgame down to the final possession.
Kansas’ senior duo of Asia Boyd and Chelsea Gardner led the Jayhawks in the attempt to knock off the Mountaineers for the second time this season. They each tallied 18 points on the evening, while Gardner posted her seventh double-double this season and 25th in her career with 12 rebounds on top of her points. The Jayhawks (13-12, 4-8) ended the night with a 42 percent shot rate from the field after making 23 of their 55 attempts.
Leading the floor was West Virginia guard Bria Holmes, who tabbed her best game since Dec. 10 against Duquesne with 27 points. Behind her was senior forward Averee Fields with 10 points. West Virginia (15-9, 5-7) shot above average, going 24-for-51 from field goal range.
The game started slow for Kansas, as its first points didn’t come until two minutes into the game. The Jayhawks had already turned it over twice before the first full timeout and was 1-for-5 from the field in the opening minutes, while West Virginia was 3-for-6 during that same time. The Mountaineers managed to put up a 10-2 run over KU.
The run took a brief break after freshman guard Terriell Bradley connected from downtown, Kansas’ second bucket of the night, and then the momentum continued in WVU’s favor. At the 11:59 mark, Holmes already scored in double digits, while the Jayhawks were shooting only 20 percent from the field and were in a scoring drought that lasted over four minutes.
The Jayhawks knocked in three shots in a row and watched the West Virginia offense take a slight tumble, as it went 1-for-7 from the field and allowed Kansas to come within four, 17-13. But the Jayhawks fell back into another scoring slump, this one lasting five minutes, missing a total of nine shots, which allowed eight unanswered Mountaineer points. WVU headed into the locker room with the lead at the halftime break, 27-15.
The Jayhawks went 7-for-29 (24 percent) from the field and their 15 points was the lowest point total in a half all season. Holmes’s 14 points led all scorers and helped West Virginia to a 11-for-27 mark (41 percent) in the first half.
The two teams traded baskets to start the second half, but then Kansas stole the momentum with an 8-2 run over the Mountaineers. This brought KU within six of the WVU advantage after trailing by as many as 12. The spark stayed with Kansas, as KU posted another run (7-0) with six made shots in a row and came within three of the WVU advantage. During this Kansas burst of energy, Gardner chalked up double-double statistics with 12 points and 10 rebounds thus far in the game.
The Mountaineers refused to let go of the lead, no matter how hard the Jayhawks tried to take it over. Momentum veered toward WVU’s way with a steal and a layup by Holmes, which ignited an 8-2 West Virginia run.
The battled continued, as the game remained close even in the waning minutes of the game. In the final five minutes, Kansas hit a span of six straight buckets, making it a two-point game, 53-51. Next up, a jumper by Gardner allowed Kansas to tie the ballgame. A WVU bucket made it a two-point game yet again, that lasted until 23.5 seconds remaining.
The Mountaineers put up two more points with a trip to the free throw line. At the other end, Boyd was fouled behind the arc and made three charity shots, making it a one-point game with six seconds left. West Virginia chalked up two more free shots as time expired, Kansas was unable to get a shot off needed to the tie and fell, 59-56.
- Kansas was limited to just 15 points in the first half, its lowest total in a frame all season, and the lowest point total in a half since only scoring 13 against Kansas State (1/9/10).
- After the first half slump, Kansas shot 62 percent in the second half and with 41 points posted its best single-half performance of conference play for the 2014-15 season.
- With 18 points and 12 rebounds, senior forward Chelsea Gardner posted her seventh double-double this season and 25th in her career. The DeSoto, Texas native has score in double figures in 21 games this season, the most of any Jayhawk.
- Senior guard Asia Boyd tallied her 13th game with 10 or more points, ending the night with 18 points.
Kansas returns home to conclude its 2015 regular-season series with No. 16 Texas on Saturday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m., inside Allen Fieldhouse.
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