St. John’s Ends Jayhawks’ Perfect Home Record, 86-71

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s basketball lost its first home game of the 2015-16 season to St. John’s on Sunday, Dec. 6, inside Allen Fieldhouse. The Red Storm shot 57 percent from the field to claim the, 86-71 victory.
Kansas couldn’t slow down Aliyyah Handford of St. John’s, who put up a career-best 33 points on 16-of 25 shooting Sunday afternoon. Despite three different Jayhawks recording double-figure scoring, the Red Storm got out to an early lead and never looked back.
Kansas (4-3) had three double-figure scoring performances from its starters, with junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen, sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge, and freshman guard Kylee Kopatich. Manning-Allen paired a career-high 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting with five rebounds and two blocks. Aldridge posted 13 points, including a perfect 4-of-4 from the free throw line, while Kopatich collected 10 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
St. John’s (6-1) was led by Handford’s 33 points, but Danaejah Grant also posted impressive numbers with 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting. Grant made two of the Red Storm’s three long-range baskets and all four of her free throw attempts. Jade Walker recorded the other double-digit scoring effort for St. John’s with 10 points, combined with a game-high eight rebounds.
Kansas converted on its first four shots, capped off with a three from Kopatich. After missing its first shot attempt, the Red Storm responded with six-straight made field goals. The Jayhawks’ 4-0 advantage less than a minute into the game was the largest lead for either team heading into the first media timeout, as both squads began the game shooting exceptional well at 75 percent.
Out of the media break, St. John’s took off on an 11-0 run, sparked by its stifling defense, which swung the momentum back in favor of the visitors. Kansas did not score again until its final possession with less than 20 seconds left in the quarter, a layup from freshman guard Jayde Christopher, which cut St. John’s lead to seven points. During the stretch, the Jayhawks only attempted three shots while the Red Storm forced four turnovers. 
Redshirt junior guard Timeka O’Neal grabbed the first four points of the second quarter with a three-ball and a free throw to bring the deficit to just four points. The Red Storm answered with four unanswered points, to re-establish the seven-point lead. Christopher ended the run with Kansas’ fifth three of the afternoon, but the basket did little to slow down St. John’s attack, which went on an 8-0 run in less than two minutes of game time to push its lead to double digits, 36-24. The two teams traded points for the remainder of the half, but St. John’s superior shooting pushed the lead to 46-31 heading to the break.
The Red Storm concluded the half making nine of its last 12 shots, while the Jayhawks converted only three of their final 12 attempts. St. John’s made a living inside, scoring 32 of its 46 points in the paint. The Jayhawks’ 11 first half turnovers resulted in 16 points for the Red Storm, while Kansas did not score any points off of turnovers in the opening 20 minutes.
The hot-shooting Red Storm continued into the second half. St. John’s made six of its first nine shots, including its first long-range basket as its lead extended to 20 points at the 5:38 mark of the third quarter. St. John’s maintained its lead until Kansas began to chip away late in the quarter. An 8-0 run was capped off at the 2:20 mark with a three-point play from Manning-Allen cut the deficit to 13 points.
After not scoring in the first half, Manning-Allen recorded 11 third quarter points to help the Jayhawks fight their way back into Sunday’s contest. With ten minutes of game time remaining, St. John’s led 69-55
St. John’s cooled off to start the fourth quarter, making only one of its first five shots. However, the Jayhawks shot the same 20 percent over their first five attempts, and the Red Storm led 73-58 at the final media timeout. Kansas refused to quit, as Manning-Allen continued to fight underneath the basket and get to the line. Two made free throws from the starting forward late in the game set a new career-high with 15 points.
Handford and the Red Storm would not let Manning-Allen’s career performance put a considerable dent in their lead. Kansas finished the game on 4-of-5 shooting, but St. John’s converted on its final four attempts. At the final buzzer, St. John’s won by a score of 86-71 to hand the Jayhawks their first home loss of the 2015-16 season. 

ST. JOHN’S 86 // KANSAS 71
DEC. 6, 2015 – LAWRENCE, Kan.
•Kansas is now tied with St. John’s in the all-time series, 1-1. The Jayhawks won the first matchup 73-63 back in 1993.
•The Jayhawks and Red Storm met for just the second time in program history on Sunday afternoon.
Attendance: 2,476 (Capacity: 16,300)
•Kansas won the opening tip for the sixth time this season.
•Sunday’s contest marked the third time this season Kansas has played a power-five conference team and second time in as many games they competed against a Big East opponent.
•The Jayhawks shot 58.3 percent in the first quarter, which is Kansas’ highest shooting percentage in the first quarter this season.
•KU shot 49 percent from the field for the game, making the highest field goal percentage St. John’s defense has allowed all season.
•Kansas had three or more players score in double figures for the fifth time this season. Junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen (15), sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge (13) and freshman guard Kylee Kopatich (10) each netted double digits against the Red Storm.
•The Jayhawks went 15-23 (65.2) from the free throw line on Sunday, setting a new season-high in both free throws made and attempted.
•KU held St. John’s to zero three-point field goals in the first half, marking the second time this season that the Jayhawks have accomplished this task.
•Sophomore G Lauren Aldridge’s 13 points on the afternoon marked the sixth time where she has scored 10 or more points.
•It was also the third time this season Aldridge made all of her free throw attempts (4-of-4).
•Junior F Caelynn Manning-Allen posted 11 points in the third quarter, finishing the game with 15, which is a new career-high. Her previous career-high was 14 points at SMU (11/28/15).
•Freshman G Kylee Kopatich pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, making this the third time she had lead Kansas in rebounds. This also marks the third time in her young career where she has recorded seven or more rebounds.


Kansas Head Coach Brandon Schneider
Opening statement:
“I think obviously (Aliyyah) Handford and (Danaejah) Grant are as good as advertised. Both those guys are probably going to make money playing this game for quite a while. I give them a ton of credit. I feel like we enabled them a little bit more than what we would have liked to get out in transition. I think we gave up 61 points either in transition or combined second-chance points and those are things that I’ve always felt like we have a lot more control over. We just really struggled to get them at half court and when we did, we didn’t keep them off the glass.”
On a tough St. John’s team:
“They’re really athletic, but so is Texas, so is Baylor, so is Oklahoma and you can go on down the list. That is a Big 12-caliber opponent that we just played. I think they’re No. 27 in the country, maybe, if you look at the votes so they’re really good and that’s the type of athleticism that we’re going to face for 18 games when we get in to league play. So all of the little things we have to do a much better job of. We were really poor in executing our transition rules and then our decision making on offense with turning the ball over enabled them to transition as well.”
On St. John’s disruptive defense:
“I thought Memphis was really disruptive too, but we handled it better. When they’re getting out in transition and got layups, we played dejected on offense. They go out and get a layup and we’re taken down at the net and instead of just coming right back and being aggressive and attacking them, we played dejected and we played slower. If you’re going at 70 percent and they’re going at 100, of course you’re going to look really disrupted. Part of that was our inability to play with the kind of pace that we’ve seen our team play with before.”
On Kansas’ mental toughness:
“I think there were lots of instances where they looked like the tougher team. Sometimes you’re not just talking about physical toughness; you can be mentally soft and it doesn’t mean you’re a soft person, but when you aren’t focused, and you’re not aware of what’s going on that’s, in my opinion, being mentally soft. And we had some instances where you could categorize ourselves as that today.”
Kansas sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge
On St. John’s defense:
“I think that they were long and athletic, but like Coach Brandon (Schneider) was saying I don’t think it was a whole lot different than Memphis. I think we made a couple poor decisions, quite a few poor decisions with the basketball, and that exposed us offensively. But like he said, ‘We just handled Memphis better.'”
Kansas junior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen
On halftime adjustments:
“I was just trying to be more aggressive. Like coach Brandon said, ‘Coming into the game we didn’t play at the best pace,’ and I feel like that was one of the adjustments that I tried to make personally and I tried to encourage my team to make as well.”
St. John’s Head Coach Joe Tartamella
Opening Statement:
“Obviously, a great team win for us today coming into one of the toughest places to play, probably in the country.  This our first visit, so it is very exciting for us as coaches and as players to be here in this historic arena, but to be able to play this well here against a team that I think has played very well at home from the numbers that I’ve watched. I was pleased with our effort. This is probably the first time this year I think we did a better job on the glass and rebounding the ball, which I was very pleased with. We kept our turnovers down in the first half, and I thought we gave some back in the second. I thought it was a great team win. I’m very pleased with the ability to get a win on the road.”
On Aaliyah Hanford:
“She’s an unbelievable player. She had a great game today. I thought she did a great job finding gaps and finding seams to get open. She pushed the tempo when she needed to and she made some really difficult shots, which is what great players do. It’s a great game by a great player.”
On Danaejah Grant:
“Danaejah makes big shots so she can stretch the floor a little bit. She’s also way more physical. They (Grant and Handford) did a great job, and I thought they did an even better job of defending. They are very big part of why we’ve been successful this year.”
On playing Kansas:
“I think in every game we try to disrupt when we can. I know what your current coach has done and the places he’s been and I think he’s going to do a great job here. Even in watching the first couple games the way that the offense was running and flowing. I think they are going to be in great shape as time goes on. So for us it was important to make sure that we did the best job we could in disrupting timing. I was worried about their inside game, which I thought we neutralized for most of the game until the fourth quarter. We executed our game plan well and that’s why we came out on the winning side.”
Kansas continues its six-game homestand to close out the 2015-16 non-conference slate. The Jayhawks face UMKC on Thursday, Dec. 10 at 7 p.m., inside Allen Fieldhouse. The game will be broadcast on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN3 and the Jayhawk Radio Network. The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.