Aldridge’s Career Night Lifts Kansas Past NIU, 66-58
DALLAS, Texas – Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge was on fire from behind the three-point line, as Kansas opened the SMU Thanksgiving Classic with a 66-58 victory over Northern Illinois on Friday, Nov. 27, inside Moody Coliseum.
The Marshfield, Missouri native made a career-best five shots from behind the arc, which was the first of several season-high marks by the Jayhawks. With the win, Kansas advanced to the Championship game against SMU on Saturday, Nov. 28 against tournament host, SMU.
The sharp-shooting Jayhawks connected on 9-of-20 attempts from the three-point, marking a season-best 45 percent from beyond the arc. On the defensive end, seven blocks and nine steals set two more team records for the Jayhawks this season, while 17 assists, including a career-high six from freshman guard Jayde Christopher, was yet another season high.Junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen recorded the
first double-double of the season for Kansas.
Junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen recorded the season’s first double-double for the Jayhawks with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds. Aldridge continued her streak of double-figure scoring, tying her career-high with 17 points. Freshman guard Kylee Kopatich reached double-digit scoring for the second time this season, connecting on three-point field goals on three separate occasions. Freshman forward Tyler Johnson set a new career-high with eight points.
The Kansas’ defense held the Huskies’ leading scorer Kelly Smith, who averaged 13.3 points per game, to only two points. Smith’s playing time was limited after picking up her fourth foul not even half way through the third quarter. She later fouled out with over two minutes left in the game, as NIU was trying to put together a late run. Ally Lehman posted a game-high 18 points behind 7-of-13 shooting. Cassidy Glenn was the other double-digit scorer for Northern Illinois with 12 points.
After Manning-Allen’s basket on the opening possession, the Huskies made things uncomfortable for Kansas and kept the Jayhawks from scoring for over three minutes. Kansas held on to an early lead over NIU, 5-4.
Johnson scored the last points of the first quarter for the Jayhawks, a jumper from the baseline to push the lead to four points with less than 30 seconds to play. Northern Illinois answered with an identical jumper just before the buzzer, cutting Kansas’ lead to two, 13-11. The Huskies’ 11 points tied a season-low for points in a period.
Less than two minutes into the second quarter, Kopatich connected on her first two long-range buckets, both assisted by Christopher. The back-to-back Christopher to Kopatich connections sparked a 9-0 run that turned a 22-13 advantage for Kansas. Northern Illinois’ Smith ended the streak with a layup at the 6:01, her first points of the evening.
With just over three minutes remaining in the half, sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle shot a three from the corner that bounced off the rim right to Aldridge in the opposite corner. Her shot found the bottom of the net. That field goal sparked confidence in Kansas’s leading scorer this season, as she drained two more three-pointers on the next two possessions. Paired with a free throw from Kopatich, the 10-0 run over two and half minutes of game time gave the Jayhawks a 15-point lead with two minutes remaining in the half. The second quarter ended with the Jayhawks boasting an 18-point lead, 39-21.
Kansas entered the locker room with a lead for the third time this season, behind double-figure scoring from Aldridge (11) and Kopatich (10). Manning-Allen was just behind, with nine points and six rebounds. After committing six turnovers in the opening quarter, the Jayhawks cleaned things up in the following period and did not record another turnover. The 26-point second quarter marked the highest scoring period this season for Kansas. The offensive success came while also holding Northern Illinois to a season-low 10 points in a period. The 16-point difference was the largest scoring margin in a period this season for the Jayhawks.
The Huskies claimed the first five points of the second half and tightened up their defense. Kansas did not score in the third period until the 6:39 mark with a layup from Johnson. Two possessions later, Brown put in her second and-one layup. With just under four minutes left in the quarter, Manning-Allen moved into double-digit scoring with a layup of her own to give Kansas a 45-28 lead. Northern Illinois answered with a run of their own, outscoring the Jayhawks 12-4 over the next two minutes to cut the lead to nine. Before the quarter concluded, Aldridge made sure to sink two more long-range field goals to bring her point total to 17, tying her career-high with a quarter still to play. The Huskies outscored Kansas 19-13 in the third period, and Kansas held onto a 12-point advantage heading into the final 10 minutes of action.
Cheadle banked in a three from the top of the arc in the first minute of the fourth quarter, with Northern Illinois threatening after a made field goal on their opening possession. With just over six minutes left in the game, Johnson got the Kansas bench energized with back-to-back rejections in a five-second span that forced a shot clock violation on the Huskies. Two minutes later, Manning-Allen got in on the action, blocking a layup from Lacia Gorman that bounced off the Husky and out-of-bounds. At the 2:30 mark, Northern Illinois momentarily broke through with a layup from Lehman, which cut the Kansas lead to single digits at 60-52.
After free throws from freshman guard Aisia Robertson, Northern Illinois’ Mikayla Voigt hit a three to cut the lead to seven, the smallest lead of the half for Kansas. In the final moments of the game, the Huskies forced Kansas to execute their press offense, but the young team did not waiver. The Jayhawks held onto their lead with the help of perfect 6-fo-6 shooting from the free throw line in the waning minutes, as Kansas defeated NIU, 66-58, in the first meeting between the two programs.
KANSAS 66, NORTHERN ILLINOIS 58
Nov. 27, 2015 – DALLAS, TEXAS
Kansas and Northern Illinois faced off for the first time in program history, with the Jayhawks taking the 1-0 series lead. Northern Illinois is the ninth team from the Mid America Conference that the Jayhawks have played. KU now holds a 10-2 record against programs from the Mid America Conference.
SMU Moody Coliseum
Attendance: 718 (Capacity: 8,998)
- Kansas shot a season-best 45 percent from beyond the three-point line.
- The Jayhawks set new season-bests on the defensive end, in blocks (7) and steals (9).
- Kansas’s 17 assists were also a season-high.
- Kansas’s 26 points in the second quarter was a season-high for any period, while the 16-point scoring margin was also a season-best.
- Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge has now reached double figure scoring in every game this season, tying her career-high with 17 points.
- Aldridge recorded a career-best five made shots from the three-point line. She has made four or more from beyond the arc three times in her career.
- Freshman guard Jayde Christopher recorded a career-high six assists.
- Freshman forward Tyler Johnson posted a career-high eight points.
- Junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen logged a career-high 11 rebounds behind 12 points, which tied her career-high set against Texas Southern in the season-opener earlier this month.
- Manning-Allen recorded the first double-double of the 2015-16 season.
- Redshirt-junior Timeka O’Neal made her first career start.
Head coach Brandon Schneider
On his thoughts on the road win:
“Well I thought we played well in the first half. We made some shots. Defensively, we played pretty well. Obviously I’m a little bit disappointed in how we played in the second half. Coming out of the locker room, I thought they really took the fight to us. That was something we talked about. They finished the first half well and we knew they were going to come out aggressive. I thought Jayde Christopher was a real bright spot tonight. She came off the bench and had six assists and no turnovers. I was really proud of Tyler (Johnson) also. Lauren Aldridge obviously shot very well.”
On facing SMU in the championship:
“Well, they’re really good. They played a tough schedule – they’ve already been at TCU and Arizona State, who was ranked 17th in the country, and played them really tight. I love the Australian, she’s going to a matchup issue for us. Hopefully we’ll have some guys rise to the challenge.
The Jayhawks will conclude their three-game road stretch in the championship game of the SMU Thanksgiving Classic on Saturday, Nov. 28. Kansas will face host SMU at 5 p.m. Fans can follow along on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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