Kansas Upsets Oklahoma on the Road, 65-58
NORMAN, Okla. – Kansas fought off a late Oklahoma rally with the help of clutch free throw shooting in the waning minutes from several Jayhawks to bring home the 65-58 victory over the Sooners to even the 2015 series, Saturday night, inside the Lloyd Noble Center.
Senior guard Natalie Knight and freshmen guards Terriell Bradley and Lauren Aldridge connected on 15-of-16 opportunities from the charity stripe, many coming in the final seconds of the game, to seal KU’s first victory over Oklahoma since 2013. With pressure building and the home crowd on its feet, the threesome calmly went to the line several times and sank all but one free throw to stay ahead of the Sooners and stall OU’s comeback.
After going back-and-forth with the Sooners in the first minutes, Kansas took over the lead just before the halfway point of the first frame and wouldn’t relinquish it for the remainder of the game. A hard-fought effort down the stretch by the Sooners wasn’t enough to overcome a Jayhawk advantage that was as many as 12.
Senior forward Chelsea Gardner led the charge for the Jayhawks with 20 points and eight rebounds. Her 10-for-18 mark was the 46th time in her four-year career attempting 10 or more shots and was good for 55 percent from the field. Senior guard Natalie Knight and freshman guard Lauren Aldridge added 10 points apiece to join Gardner in the double-digit club. Collectively, Kansas (14-16, 5-12) shot 39 percent from field goal range behind a 22-for-56 effort.
Redshirt-junior forward Kaylon Williams and senior guard Sharane Campbell-Olds finished in double figures for the Sooners, scoring 20 and 11 points, respectively. Campbell-Olds also finished with 10 rebounds for a double-double performance. Missing from the Oklahoma offense was redshirt-sophomore guard Peyton Little, who ended the night with just four points, while averaging 13.4 on the season. Oklahoma (18-10, 12-5) connected on 19-of-59 from the field, equaling 32 percent.
Kansas made it to the first media timeout on top, 8-5, but the two teams battled on, as Oklahoma would tie the game and later surpass the Kansas lead. The pace then slowed as each team entered a quiet spell. No one scored from the field in over four minutes. Knight came to Kansas’ rescue to put an end to the scoring drought.
The Sooners and the Jayhawks began to trade baskets, as neither side could spark a run over the other and steal the momentum. Still, with the help of Gardner already posting double figures, Kansas earned back a slight lead late in the opening frame.
In the following minutes, KU found what it was looking for and posted eight unanswered points, while sending Oklahoma into a scoring deficiency, which lasted more than three minutes. The Jayhawks established their largest lead thus far 29-19.
But the Sooners closed the gap with a 6-0 run of their own and kept Kansas quiet for the remainder of the half. At the break, Kansas led 29-25.
Gardner led the floor with 16 points on the scoreboard in the first frame. Kansas’ defense held the Sooners to just 32 percent from the field, the lowest in a half since they faced Baylor on Feb. 11 (21 percent). The Jayhawks posted a 14-for-27 mark, which was good for an astounding 52 percent from the field.
The Jayhawks started the second half opposite of how the first half concluded with an 8-2 run over the Sooners. KU’s efforts were rewarded with another 10-point lead, 37-27. Oklahoma’s first points of the second half didn’t come until the 16:41 mark, being held scoreless for over three minutes.
After its offensive struggle, OU scored eight points before KU could reply, keeping it within reach of the Jayhawks’ lead. The momentum swayed back-and-forth as the two teams traded baskets and Oklahoma kept chipping away at the advantage Kansas had built, coming within six, and keeping KU without a bucket for more than three minutes.
The Jayhawk lag sparked the Sooner crowd and the opportunity to clinch the lead for OU. The Sooners came as close as two-points away from Kansas’ lead, 52-50, with just over three minutes to play. Each team took its turn at the charity line and as time dwindled to seconds.
Oklahoma was forced to foul, hoping to gain more time on offense, which would ultimately prove to be unsuccessful. Enduring the final seconds, Kansas took home the win, 65-58.
- KU’s defense held the Sooners to just 32 percent from the field in the first 20 minutes, the lowest in a half since they faced Baylor on Feb. 11 (21 percent).
- Senior forward Chelsea Gardner added 20 points to mark her 26th game in double digits this season; her eighth straight. The DeSoto, Texas native has had 10 contests with 20 or more points.
- Freshman guard finished the night with 10 points, which is good for her 12th double-figure game during the 2014-15 campaign.
- Posting her 24th game with 10 or more points, senior guard Natalie Knight tallied 10 points for Kansas.
Kansas returns home to close out the regular season with Senior Night against Iowa State on Monday, March 2, at 7 p.m., inside Allen Fieldhouse.
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