Jayhawks Conclude Exhibition Play With 68-57 Victory Over Hornets
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s basketball fought back from an 11-point first half deficit to claim a win by the same margin over Emporia State on Sunday afternoon, inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas’ head coach Brandon Schneider and his team faced a familiar foe in Emporia State, where Schneider coached for 12 years – culminating in a Division II national title in 2010. Jory Collins, now the head coach of the Hornets was an assistant under Schneider and took over the program after Schneider moved on to Stephen F. Austin following the championship run.
“It’s a lot like when I used to have to play against my dad, you know that even when its an exhibition game you don’t want to lose,” Schneider said. “He knows how I was going to feel if we lost and I know how he is feeling right now. You just don’t wish that on people that you care about.”Sophomore Lauren Aldridge led the
Jayhawks with 18 points.
KU’s sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge stepped up big as the leader of the team for the second game in a row, notching team-highs with 18 points, five rebounds and seven assists, while committing just two turnovers.
“We talk about making our own plays all the time and his offense caters to everybody’s specific plays,” Aldridge said. “I think that creates a comfort for everybody on the team because you know what are your plays and how they factor into the offense. I think everybody here loves what’s going on and loves the offense that he’s put in. I think its going to give us a lot of room for growth this season.”
The Kansas freshmen continue to improve, with guards Kylee Kopatich and Aisia Robertson leading the way. Kopatich tallied 10 points, four assists, one steal and a block in a team-leading 34-minute performance. Robertson finished with six points, but grabbed five rebounds and two steals.
Emporia State guard Kelly Moten gave the Jayhawks trouble all game, finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and five assists, matching Aldridge’s effort of leading in all three categories. Forward Sandra Ngoie began the game with two quick triples, but eventually cooled down, concluding the day with 10 points.
After both teams came up empty on their opening possessions, Kansas was first on the board with a layup from sophomore forward Caelynn Manning-Allen, who finished the afternoon in double figures with 11 points. The Hornets immediately answered, however, with a three-point basket from Ngoie. That basket sparked a run of five-straight made field goals for Emporia State, including another three from Ngoie. Back-to-back jumpers from Manning-Allen held the visitors to an early 12-11 lead over the Jayhawks, going into the first timeout of the afternoon.
Despite both teams coming out of the break with cold shooting, Emporia State managed to push the lead to six points with two made layups. Junior Jada Brown answered with a layup of her own to get the score to 17-13. Kansas had an opportunity late in the quarter to shave the deficit from the free throw line, but could only connect on one of four attempts and trailed by a score of 19-14 after the opening quarter.
The second quarter got off to an explosive start after Kopatich stole a pass and finished the play with a turnaround jumper on the other end. Emporia State responded in a big way with seven unanswered points, pushing the lead to double-digits, at 26-16.
It was a slow climb for the Jayhawks over the final five minutes of the first half to fight their way back. Aldridge converted on three baskets and tacked on a pair of free throws to increase her point total to 11. Freshman forward Tyler Johnson entered the game and made a serious impact, with four points, two blocks, and a hard-fought rebound that led to an Emporia State foul.
It was a three-point basket from redshirt junior Timeka O’Neal that cranked up the noise level at Allen Fieldhouse, capping off a 10-0 run and giving the Jayhawks their first lead of the second quarter, at 35-34. A layup from Emporia State’s Moten just before the break gave the advantage back to the visitors going into the locker room, as a KU shot at the buzzer fell short.
“I think any team, especially a young team, when you get behind, you think you’re going to shoot your way out of a game,” Schneider explained. “We got down six or eight and we took about three straight ill-advised shots. We finally got back into it with some defensive stops and going down and getting the best shot possible. For the most part we played a lot smarter in the second half.”
The Jayhawks returned from the intermission with something to prove and the energy level to match. After battling through a tough first half shooting 0-3, sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle took control in the opening minutes of the third period. She followed up a steal with a three-pointer that looked pure from the second it left her hands. On the very next possession, she stood tall and took a charge, negating a layup from Moten.
A jumper from Robertson and an acrobatic three-point play from Aldridge boosted the Kansas lead to 50-39. During the same run of play, Emporia State shot just 2-of-10 from the field. Going back to the first half, Kansas put together a 24-4 run, overcoming an 11-point deficit to take the largest lead of the game.
The hot streak did come to an end, and the Jayhawks were forced to battle through a 2-of-10 shooting drought of their own. Emporia State shortened the Kansas lead to six points with just under four minutes remaining in the quarter. Cheadle returned to the game, picking up right where she left off with a layup and then two made free throws with 22 seconds left on the clock. Emporia State answered with a jumper right before the horn to cut the Kansas lead back to six, at 54-48.
Emporia State would not back down in the final 10 minutes of action, with a three from guard Kelsey Barnwell that cut the lead in half. Aldridge responded with a layup, but a basket from Moten on the other end promptly brought the advantage back to three points.
Following another block from Johnson – her third of the night, Kansas held the Hornets scoreless for the next 3:25 of action. On the offensive end, Robertson and Cheadle each claimed a made field goal. Freshman guard Jayde Christopher followed her own missed layup and kicked the ball out to Kopatich, who drained her second long ball of the day. O’Neal sunk her second three of the game two possessions later and it was all Jayhawks for the final two minutes. Moten scored her final basket with 1:51 remaining, which proved to be the last scoring play of the game, as the Jayhawks held on to win by a score of 68-57.
“We’re so young that we have a lot of room for growth,” said Schneider. “I like the fact that we’ve played two different styles in exhibition play, so our preparation has been much different. I have a feeling that as we prepare for Texas Southern that those few days of preparation will be much different than preparing for Emporia State. We have a lot of room to grow and we still have a lot to learn. I still have a lot to learn about them and I think they’re still learning about me every single day. As long as we continue to work together I hope that we can make a little bit of progress each and every day.”
Kansas women’s basketball will officially begin the 2015-16 regular season against Texas Southern back home inside Allen Fieldhouse, on Sunday, Nov. 15. Tip-off is scheduled for 2:05 p.m. Fans can watch the action on Jayhawk Television, or tune in to the Jayhawk Radio Network.
- With the victory over Emporia State, the Jayhawks now have a 22-game win streak in exhibition play. Overall, Kansas is 47-9 in exhibition play and 25-1 in exhibition contests played in Allen Fieldhouse.
- KU is now 2-0 in exhibition play under first-year head coach Brandon Schneider.
- The Jayhawks now have a 9-0 mark against Emporia State, a series that started in 1969.
- KU committed just nine fouls in the final exhibition game against Emporia State. The Jayhawks never committed fewer than nine fouls last season.
- KU held the Hornets to just nine points in the final quarter and out scored ESU in the three of four periods. The first quarter was the only period where the Jayahwks were outscored.
- KU shot 50% from the field in the first half and finished the game shooting 43.3 percent, which is higher than KU’s field goal percentage (42.6) from 2014-15.
- KU forced 20 turnovers on the afternoon. Last season, opponents committed 20 or more turnovers just twice.
Kansas Head Coach Brandon Schneider
“What a great game for us, to get to play an opponent of that caliber in exhibition play. They can really execute and move it and pass it. They remind me of the San Antonio Spurs a couple of years ago with how unselfishly they play and how well they move the ball. Early in the first quarter, we didn’t rotate to some shooters as well as we hoped to and credit them for knocking down some shots. They put us in the situation where we had to call a timeout in a position of weakness, which I don’t like to do. Our players responded and, defensively, I thought we were much better in the second half.”
Emporia State Head Coach Jory Collins
“It was a great game for us. They did a lot of things to us that our new freshman bigs are going to get a chance to watch the film to learn from. The amount of pressure they can put on you to take you out of some things–we had to go to some second, third options and things like that. I thought we competed and played really hard, as did they. We got a little fatigued and ran out of gas there at the end of the third period and into the fourth and just didn’t have enough to stay there until the end.”
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