Jayhawk Insider: Solid from the Charity Stripe
By: Jack Dodd
LAWRENCE, Kan. — In a back and forth affair on Wednesday night against Oklahoma, the poise and control of Kansas women’s basketball was highlighted for all 40 minutes as the team calmly knocked down free throw after free throw, each one meaning more than the next.
The Jayhawks displayed their team slogan in full effect, showing how tough and together they can be when adversity hits. With three players scoring 20 or more points, the Jayhawks held on for an 88-79 comeback victory against Oklahoma, but there was one thing that stood out more on the final stat sheet that some may overlook.
The Jayhawks showed resiliency at the free throw line the entire evening, making an impressive 32-of-34 from the charity stripe.
Kansas’ 32 free throws marks the first time KU has made at least 30 free throws in a game since 2013, when KU made 41 against Oral Roberts (11/10). However, Kansas’ recent success at the line didn’t happen overnight. A combination of consistent practice drills and pre-game routines helps keep the group ready for any situation.
For senior guard Kylee Kopatich, her consistency at the free throw line rubbed off on the rest of the team as she helped guide KU to victory with a 10-of-10 performance, recording half of her 20 points from the charity stripe.
“I don’t like missing, so I want to make them all,” Kopatich said. “It really helped our team out today and we got this win. I’m happy we all contributed to make it 32-of-34.”
The Jayhawks also utilize a warm-up drill before games in order to fine tune their free throws. The team gathers around the free throw line, while each person shoots a free throw and has to wait until each makes one until moving on to the next in line.Senior Kylee Kopatich
“We do a lot during a transition drill or if we are doing the half court,” Kopatich said. “We all have to make a free throw before we go into the next drill. We shoot a lot after practice and thank goodness we do because it meant so much tonight.”
Senior Austin Richardson was also perfect from the line, making 4-of-4 attempts with the clock stopped, while fellow senior Chelsea Lott delivered crucial free throws after making all six of her attempts. Senior Christalah Lyons sealed the victory in the final minutes with 8-of-9 shooting on the line en route to her team-high 23 points.
“We shoot a lot of free throws in practice, so it paid off in the game,” Richardson said. “It went our way.”
No free throws were more impressive than in the final minutes when different players stepped up in crunch time situations when every point matter. The Jayhawks were knotted up with the Sooners, 70-70, with four minutes to play, but the team combined for a perfect 8-for-8 down the stretch to seal the nine-point victory.
KU had shot 75 percent or better from the free throw line in two of its last three games heading into Wednesday’s matchup, shooting 75 percent (12-of-16) against Oklahoma State (1/19) and shooting 78.6 percent (11-of-14) at TCU (1/27).
As far as historic numbers go, the squad’s 94.1 free throw percentage marks its eighth-best performance in program history in a single game.
“We needed all of them, you know,” head coach Brandon Schneider said. “We haven’t shot very well this year to be honest with you. It’s been a weakness of ours. I just thought in several areas of the game tonight we really demonstrated some mental toughness and stepping up and making a free throw is what it comes down to.”
The Jayhawks will look to continue their success at the charity stripe when they go on the road to face West Virginia on Sunday, Feb. 3 at 2 p.m. on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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