Kansas Stifles Samford, 66-44
LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the fifth time this season, four Jayhawks scored over 10 points to lift Kansas over Samford, 66-44, Monday night inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Reigning Big 12 Player of the Week, Natalie Knight, and fellow senior guard Asia Boyd were at the top of the Jayhawk offense with 13 points each. Freshman guard Lauren Aldridge along with classmate Chayla Cheadle were also in double figures with 10 points a piece. Kansas shot above average, finishing 25-for-56 converting 45 percent of its shots from the field. The Jayhawks collectively tallied seven three-point baskets and outrebounded the Bulldogs 34 to 26.
“I think it’s really good for us to be able to play everybody and have them play a lot of minutes,” Knight said. “It’s good for everybody to get the same amount of looks. Moving forward, it will help us and it was good to be able to save legs tonight because we’re going to need them in the future.”
Held to only 38 percent from field goal range, Samford made 15 of its 40 shots on the night. However, sophomore guard Hannah Nichols still managed to chalk up 12 points to lead the Bulldog offense. SU struggled to keep control of the ball with 19 turnovers translating into 10 Kansas steals.
“At times, they got us, but I thought our weak side defense was good,” head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “In the first half, we had 18 rebounds, 34 for the game, a lot of that was help off the side and not letting it go to the rim. It was good for us to defensively fly around a little bit. Overall, I saw a better effort and better intensity. I certainly feel a little better about going into our game at Texas.”
Samford built a 10-7 lead going into the game’s first media timeout, but the momentum would then veer into the Jayhawks’ favor thanks to back-to-back buckets from Knight. Just a few seconds later, senior forward Chelsea Gardner stole the ball from the Bulldogs. Although, she was fouled in the act of shooting, she completed two free shots from the free throw line and with that, Kansas had the lead.
The Bulldogs refused to let the Jayhawks get too far ahead by keeping the score close. Kansas fell into a groove and hit three unanswered buckets, which would spark in an 11-0 run. A two-point shot by Samford’s sophomore forward Ellen Riggins at the 11-minute mark were the last points allowed by the Kansas defense in over five minutes. SU went 0-for-8 from the field during the Kansas run and allowed the Jayhawks to build a 28-16 advantage.
In the last 13 minutes of the first frame, Kansas’ defense only allowed six points, while its offense added 20 points during that span, which was led by three Jayhawks. Gardner, Cheadle and Knight all had eight points in the first half. SU went 8-for-21 – or 38 percent – from the field, while KU completed 14-of-29 shots (48 percent). With a 15-point Kansas lead, the teams went into halftime with the scoreboard reading 35-20.
The Jayhawk lead quickly dwindled as the Bulldogs came out with an improved shooting effort in the second half putting up five unanswered points. Kansas quickly retaliated and shut down the Samford offense after the strong beginning and went on a 13-2 run that was ignited by sophomore forward Jada Brown going coast-to-coast after a steal from Nichols. During the run, Boyd sank the Jayhawks’ sixth three-point shot of the night, Cheadle and Knight both hit the double-digit mark and Kansas now had a 48-27 lead.
“I thought Asia’s effort was better,” Henrickson said. “I thought she drove well and defensively she was a great hustle player. She should be awarded for that great effort. She made better decisions.”
Searching for a momentum change, the Bulldogs finally found what they were looking for with a bucket shot from behind the arc by Riggins and ended Samford’s five minute scoring drought. SU went on to a 7-0 run in a matter of just a minute and 30 seconds, while keeping the Jayhawks hushed for almost three minutes.
Not much time passed before Kansas managed to start another run. This time Bradley triggered the run by knocking in a three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer. The Jayhawks then put up seven unanswered points and still had the lead, 57-36.
After a traditional three-point play completed by the Bulldogs, Aldridge knocked in a pair of free throws on the other end for Kansas to become the fourth Jayhawk to score in double figures. Aldrige’s free throws also started an 8-3 run to end the game. Kansas took home its 9th home win of the season, 66-44.
- For the fifth time this season, Kansas has had four score double digits in a game. On Monday, senior guards Natalie Knight and Asia Boyd each had 13 points, while freshmen guards Chayla Cheadle and Lauren Aldridge added 10.
- With the win, Kansas finishes the 2014-15 non-conference campaign with a 9-4 mark.
- The victory over Samford gives Kansas a 9-2 record when owning the lead at half time.
- The Kansas defense only allowed six Bulldog points in the final 13 minutes of the first half.
Kansas will head into its first Big 12 contest of the 2014-15 season when the Jayhawks take on No. 3 Texas in Austin. Game time is set for 7 p.m. on Jan. 3.
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