Cowgirls halt Kansas' comeback, 79-75
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. – After falling behind early, Kansas women’s basketball went on a late run in the fourth quarter and nearly mounted a come-from-behind victory, but Oklahoma State spoiled the Jayhawks’ hopes of continuing on in the 2017 Big 12 Championship and held on to win, 79-75, on Friday night inside the Chesapeake Energy Arena.
In the fourth quarter, the Jayhawks (8-22, 2-16 Big 12) were behind by 15 points and it looked like the Cowgirls (17-13, 6-12 Big 12) would run away with the first round matchup, but KU made the ballgame interesting with a 12-0 run and made it a one-possession game with four minutes to play. Despite the late push, OSU held on and escaped the first round of the conference tournament with a victory.
Redshirt junior Jessica Washington
A trio of Jayhawks netted double figures in the third meeting with Cowgirls led by redshirt junior guard Jessica Washington and sophomore guard Kylee Kopatich, who each scored 18 points. Washington posted her 23rd double-digit scoring effort of the season after connecting on all 10 of her attempts from the free throw line. Kopatich converted 5-of-8 from the field, while also grabbing five rebounds and two steals. Senior forward Jada Brown was key in the Jayhawks fourth quarter run, tying her career high of 14 points in the process.
Upper classmen led the way for the Cowgirls as junior forward Kaylee Jensen led all scorers with 23 points on 7-of-11 shooting while also pulling down 12 rebounds. Senior guard Diana Omozee scored 21 points after making 9 of her 16 attempts from the floor, in addition to dishing out two assists and grabbing eight rebounds.
First quarter turnovers and poor shooting from the Jayhawks allowed the Cowgirls to go on an early 6-0 run. The Jayhawks pulled back within two, 8-6, with baskets from senior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen and sophomore guard Aisia Robertson, but Oklahoma State remained aggressive on both ends of the floor keeping Kansas from getting the lead.
Despite making just four field goals in the first period, the Jayhawks held Oklahoma State scoreless for three minutes, but the Cowgirls maintained a 15-11 lead going into the second quarter.
The Jayhawks took advantage of Oklahoma State’s poor shooting and went on a 6-0 run to tie the game at 17 in the second period. The Cowgirls responded quickly with a 3-point basket from junior forward Mandy Coleman along with a 3-point play the old fashioned way from junior center Kaylee Jensen putting OSU back on top by five.
Kansas continued to crawl back and took the lead with a jumper from Brown, 26-25. In the third closely contested matchup between Kansas and Oklahoma State of the year, the Cowgirls withheld a 32-29 advantage at the half.
The Cowgirls extended their lead from three to nine in the first three minutes of the second half. However, a pair of 3-point baskets from junior guard Chayla Cheadle and Kopatich attempted to spark a Jayhawk comeback, but Oklahoma State continued to dominate defensively, grabbing 21 rebounds to KU’s eight. Senior guard Timeka O’Neal cut the Cowgirls’ lead to six with a 3-point basket, but Oklahoma State continued to answer everything the Jayhawks threw at them. Buckets by Robertson and Washington allowed Kansas to pull within eight, 53-45, in the final minutes of the third quarter. The Cowgirls held onto an 11-point lead going into the final quarter.
The Jayhawks kept the final quarter interesting as Oklahoma State’s lead fell to seven, 67-60, after leading by as many as 15. KU continued to cut the Cowgirls lead by executing on each of the Cowgirls four turnovers. Kansas went on a 14-2 run over three minutes to come within three, 69-66, but Oklahoma State outlasted the Jayhawks down the stretch to win, 79-75.
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