Kansas Stifles Pittsburg State, 80-54
LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Brandon Schneider coaching era began with a victory in exhibition play, as the Kansas women’s basketball team defeated Pittsburg State, 80-54, inside Allen Fieldhouse Sunday afternoon.
Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge led the scoring for the Jayhawks with 21 points, while tacking on two assists and two steals. Junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen posted a double-double performance with 12 points and 11 rebounds. It wasn’t just the veterans that contributed to the win as the newcomers for Kansas put up impressive numbers as well. Freshman guard Aisia Robertson tallied five assists, two blocks and four steals, leading the team in all three categories, while also putting up seven points. Fellow freshman guard Kylee Kopatich shot a perfect 2-of-2 from long range to contribute to her eight-point performance.
“Until someone disproves this statement, I think we are the youngest team in the country,” Schneider said. “We will have a lot of youth and inexperience on the court. We had two freshmen in the starting lineup today and many sophomores. There will be times that we make some mistakes. The lack of experience will show, but hopefully we are intelligent enough to learn from that whether it is in-game or during film session the next day.” Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge
led all scorers with 21 points.
On defense, Kansas made things difficult for Pitt State. The Gorillas shot only 21.2 percent from the field in the second half, finishing with a 31.3 field goal percentage on the afternoon. The Jayhawks also forced 19 turnovers and 12 steals.
In the first half of play, Kansas made a living from beyond the arc. Four Jayhawks combined to shoot 50 percent from the three-point line. Robertson’s first shot in exhibition play was a made three-point basket from the top of the key. On the very next play, Kopatich matched the effort with a long-range score of her own. Aldridge added back-to-back triples and redshirt junior Timeka O’Neal got in on the action with a three-pointer of her own. Kopatich added another long-range bucket to her name – the sixth overall of the opening half for the Jayhawks.
Manning-Allen helped Kansas finish the first half strong, knocking down the team’s final three baskets. The last of which, came with six seconds remaining in the half, as Manning-Allen spun around in the paint and knocked down her fifth field goal of the afternoon, giving Kansas a 39-35 heading into the locker-room.
“Her development over the last few months has gone really well,” Schneider said. “We’ve seen the development of players here at Kansas. It would sure help our team if we can get some offensive contribution from her position.”
One minute into the third quarter, Aldridge’s three-point sharpshooting boosted the Jayhawk lead to 10 points with two more made attempts. The Gorillas slowly climbed back into the game, cutting the lead to five with 6:51 remaining in the quarter. After three-straight turnovers, Cheadle got the Jayhawk offense going again, converting a layup to stretch the lead to back to seven points, at 49-42.
For the final seven minutes of the third quarter, Kansas’ defense held the Gorillas to 2-for-10 shooting and five points. During that run, junior Jada Brown logged one steal and a block, and the team forced four Pitt State turnovers. On the offensive end, the Jayhawks put up 12 points to carry a 14-point lead into the final quarter.
The defensive dominance continued for Kansas in the last 10 minutes, as the Gorillas were held to just nine points on 3-of-15 shooting. With 4:22 remaining in the game, freshman guard Jayde Christopher brought the Kansas bench to their feet, fighting through a foul to sink a layup.
After converting the three-point play, Kansas led 70-51 and allowed Pittsburg State to make just one more basket. Christopher assisted on the final scoring play of the game, as sophomore forward Lorraine Enabulele put in a layup to give the Jayhawks the 80-54 victory.
Kansas will finish its exhibition schedule on Sunday, Nov. 8 against Emporia State at 2 p.m., inside Allen Fieldhouse.