Kansas Drops Gritty Sunflower Showdown, 55-48
LAWRENCE, Kan. – In a game of loose possessions and grit, the Kansas women’s basketball team saw the senior duo of Chelsea Gardner and Natalie Knight each record a double-double to the tune of 15 points and 15 rebounds for Gardner and 11 points to go along with 11 rebounds for Knight.
However, a season-low 29.3 percent shooting performance coupled with 23 turnovers spelled disaster for the Jayhawks in what ended as a 55-48 home loss Wednesday evening at the hands of Kansas State.
Things were looking up for the Jayhawks as they clinched the lead with three minutes left to play, while KSU was suffering a scoring drought. All of a sudden a 12-0 Wildcat run gave K-State what would be the final lead change of the game, 44-42, with two minutes and 41 seconds to play. The sudden burst of scoring left Kansas shocked as the Wildcats went on to claim the season-sweep of the 2014-15 edition of the Sunflower Showdown.
Neither team posted an impressive performance on offense, as each posted percentages under 30 (Kansas 17-of-58, 29.3 percent, Kansas State 18-of-64, 28.1 percent). Kansas (13-16, 4-12) was plagued by 23 turnovers on the night leading directly to 25 Kansas State (16-11, 6-10) points. Gardner and Knight orchestrated the offensive scheme as the only Jayhawks in double figures, while freshman guard Lauren Aldridge handed out seven assists.
Defensively, Gardner rejected five shots, her fourth five-block game of the season while the Jayhawks as a whole swatted 11 shots, its most in a single game since deflecting 11 Texas A&M Corpus-Christi shots on Nov. 17, 2010. Aldridge also stole three possessions away from the Wildcats for her 10th multiple-steal game of the season.
Kansas’ low shooting percentage and high turnover rate were due in large part to Kansas State’s switching defensive game plan, mixing zone with man-to-man, which led to K-State coming up with 17 steals on the night. The Wildcats’ 17 steals are the most by an opposing team since Texas A&M stole the ball away from the Jayhawks 18 times on Feb. 12, 2011.
“It was 17 steals and the fact that they got into us,” head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “On the flipside, we didn’t get into them defensively and force some tough shots at the rim. We didn’t convert defensive rebounds into points. We have to be more aggressive with the ball handler, be more disruptive and turn someone over to go get opportunities for ourselves.”Head coach Bonnie Henrickson and
assistant coach Katie O’Connor
give instruction from the sideline.
Three Wildcats finished in double figures on the point column with senior guard Haley Texada completing the game with a floor-best 20 points. Senior guard Ashia Woods chipped in 12, while sophomore guard Kindred Wesemann rounded out the scorers with 10 points.
By way of Gardner and Knight’s 26 combined rebounds, Kansas out-rebounded the Wildcats on its way to its highest rebound total of the season, 54-41. KU’s 54 boards are the most by a Kansas team since snatching 58 balls of the glass against TCU on Feb. 13, 2013.
Just as Kansas knocked in its first bucket, Kansas State was there to answer. The score stayed close in the first minutes, as the Jayhawks pulled ahead by four, but the Wildcats came back to tie it up. Both teams also experienced trouble on offense, each suffering scoring droughts that lasted four and six minutes, respectively. The Jayhawks attempted nine shots during this time before seeing a connection.
Kansas needed something to cure its slump and that was a layup by freshman guard Terriell Bradley, who posted five points for Kansas in under a minute. K-State missed six shots before knocking one in, but still had a three-point lead despite its rough patch.
With five minutes remaining in the first half, neither team had yet to spark a significant run and neither led by more than four. Then KSU sparked a scoring stretch, reeling-off a 12-2 run before halftime could break the momentum. To the Wildcats’ delight, Kansas managed seven turnovers in just over three minutes, giving KSU more opportunities to score and was held silent again for almost three minutes, giving KSU a 28-21 lead at the break.
The two teams were almost even shooting wise, as Kansas State led with a 32 percent shooting effort. Kansas was close behind at 31 percent from the field. Texada led the floor thus far with nine points, while Gardner managed eight points and five rebounds in the first 20 minutes. Kansas State snagged 10 steals and forced a total of 15 Kansas turnovers in the first frame, but KU outrebounded KSU 25-18.
The close battle continued to start the second half of action with each team staying on each other’s heels. Both K-State and Kansas scored seven points, but the Wildcats still hung on tight to their seven-point lead, 35-28, established just before halftime.
The Jayhawk defense forced two-minute scoring silence from Kansas State and held the Wildcats to a 2-for-8 shooting effort over the course of four minutes. Unfortunately, momentum swayed back KSU’s way, as Kansas was quiet for over four minutes and suffered a 2-for-12 mark from the field.
The story of scoring droughts continued, as Kansas State saw another one, this time lasting over six minutes. Kansas used this to spark a 10-0 run and take over the lead for the first time since the beginning of the game. Still, both the Jayhawks and the Wildcats were shooting well under average up to this point in the game completing 28 and 26 percent, respectively, thus far in the contest.
Kansas held onto the advantage for just over a minute and a half before being shut out by K-State. Once the Wildcats started knocking down shots again, they posted 12 unanswered points to uncover their largest lead of the game, 52-42. Try as they might, the Jayhawks were unable to bounce back before time expired and Kansas State took home the win, 55-48.
- Senior forward Chelsea Gardner logged her 25th game in double figures, behind her eighth double-double this season, with 15 points and 15 rebounds.
- Defensively, Gardner rejected five shots, her fourth five-block game of the season while the Jayhawks as a whole swatted 11 shots, its most in a single game since deflecting 11 Texas A&M Corpus-Christi shots on Nov. 17, 2010.
- Senior guard Natalie Knight added 11 points and 11 rebounds, which is good for her 23rd game in double digits and second-career double-double.
- KU’s 54 boards are the most by a Kansas team since snatching 58 balls of the glass against TCU on Feb. 13, 2013.
Kansas heads to Oklahoma on Saturday for its final road test of the 2014-15 regular season. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m., inside the Lloyd Noble Center.
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