Kansas falls to Alabama in overtime, 71-65

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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Kansas women’s basketball was three seconds away from handing Alabama its first loss of the season, but the Crimson Tide weren’t ready to let go of their perfect record and sent the game into overtime with a last minute 3-point shot. Following the game-tying shot, Alabama surged ahead and handed Kansas its first overtime loss of the season, a 71-65 decision in favor of the Crimson Tide, on Sunday morning inside  Coleman Coliseum.
Alabama (7-0) and Kansas (3-4) met for the fourth time in program history as a part of the 2016 Big 12/SEC Challenge, as ‘Bama took a 3-1 lead in the series. With the 71-65 loss, Kansas fell to 2-1 in overtime games in 2016-17 and 3-1 in overtime games under head coach Brandon Schneider. Like most of the game, the final five minutes of overtime were neck and neck with both teams battling to take control and the lead. In the final minute of the game, the Jayhawks were forced to foul in order to stop the clock, as Alabama pulled away with the victory after nearly suffering its first loss of the year.
Redshirt sophomore guard McKenzie Calvert led Kansas’ offense with her fifth double-digit scoring performance of the season after netting 15 points, while junior forward Chayla Cheadle recorded her first career double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Senior forward Jada Brown contributed a season-high 11 points, her first double-figure effort of the year. Redshirt junior guard Jessica Washington finished the game two points shy of her first double-double as a Jayhawk after grabbing a season-best 10 rebounds.

Entering Sunday’s matchup, Alabama was averaging nearly 50 rebounds per game compared to Kansas’ 40. Despite the numbers heading into the game, KU walked away outrebounding the Crimson Tide, 59-54. Four Jayhawks grabbed season-best numbers off the glass at Alabama. The Jayhawks also outscored Alabama in the paint, 34-32. In a game that saw neither team establish a solid lead in 40 minutes of play, the game was tied on 12 occasions and saw 16 lead changes. 
The Crimson Tide matched KU’s three players in double figures as junior forward Quanetria Bolton led Alabama with 18 points behind 6-of-15 shooting from the floor. Junior guard Meoshonti Knight netted 17 points with a 6-of-13 effort, while junior guard Hannah Cook finished with 10 points, three of which proved to be the most important of the game.
Alabama took the lead right out of the gate in the first quarter, but Cheadle kept the game within reach after making the first four points for the Crimson and Blue. Calvert gave Kansas its first lead, 7-5, at the 7:10 mark in the opening period after making a three-point play the old fashioned way. The Jayhawks and Crimson Tide traded baskets and the lead until four unanswered points allowed Alabama to pull ahead late in the quarter. Brown closed out the first 10 minutes with five-straight points to bring KU within two points, 16-14.
Cheadle scored the first six of nine Kansas points to lead the Jayhawks’ offense in the first quarter, as Brown ended the period just behind with five points. Kansas connected on just 25 percent of its shots from the field, but finished the period making 86 percent of its attempts from the free throw line. KU outrebounded the Crimson Tide, 13-10, early in the ballgame. Kansas ended the game connecting on 31.1 percent of its attempts from the floor, including a 4-of-24 mark from the 3-point line.
Four minutes into the second period, Calvert tied the contest, 18-18, with a long jumper just inside the 3-point line. With three and half minutes to play in the first half, sophomore guard Aisia Robertson swiped a steal and ran it back to the other end for two, giving Kansas its first lead of the second quarter, 24-22. The Crimson Tide closed out the half with three unanswered points, but Kansas headed to the locker room with a 26-25 advantage at the end of the first 20 minutes of play.
Despite finishing the half shooting just 26.3 percent from the field, the Jayhawks headed into the halftime break with the lead for the third time this season. When KU owns a 2-1 record when leading at the break in 2016-17. Cheadle led KU’s offense after netting eight first-half points, while Calvert added seven. Kansas outrebounded the Crimson Tide, 28-26, in the first two quarters.
Sophomore guard Kylee Kopatich knocked in KU’s first 3-pointer of the game in the opening minutes of the second half to maintain the Jayhawks’ lead. The ballgame remained tied or within one possession as each team battled to gain momentum and solidify an advantage in the second half. Senior forward Lisa Blair scored her first points as a Jayhawk in the third period, putting Kansas back on top, 33-32, with 4:56 to play . Late in the third quarter, Knight regained the lead for Alabama for the first time in the second half, 38-36. Just as the Crimson Tide took back the lead, senior guard Timeka O’Neal sank her first 3-pointer of the afternoon, giving Kansas the lead once again, 39-38. Brown made the final bucket of the third period as Kansas maintained its lead, 43-41, heading into the final 10 minutes of play.
With 7:27 remaining in the fourth quarter, Alabama took back the lead, but it didn’t last long as Calvert came down the court and sank another KU trey to regain the advantage, 48-46. Unable to pull away, Kansas continued to hold on to a one-possession advantage over the Crimson Tide late into the fourth quarter. With nine seconds to play, Kansas got the ball back and was fouled, sending Calvert  to the line with a one-point Jayhawk lead. Calvert made both attempts from the charity stripe to extend KU’s lead, 56-53. With three seconds left on the clock in regulation, Cook tied the game, 56-56, with her second basket of the game and forced the game into overtime.

Brown maintained KU’s lead, 60-58, in overtime by scoring the first four Kansas points. With under two minutes to play, Alabama took a one-point lead over the Jayhawks, 61-60, its first lead since halfway through the fourth quarter, which the Crimson Tide would hold on to until the clock hit zero. Sophomore Shaquera Wade increased the Crimson Tide’s lead to four with another 3-pointer as the final minutes of the extra period approached. In the waning minutes of overtime, Kansas was forced to foul, which allowed Alabama to extend its lead and the Crimson Tide held on for the come-from-behind victory, 71-65.

Up Next
Kansas returns to Allen Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Dec. 7 to host Harvard. Tipoff is slated for 7 p.m., on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN3 and the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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