Jayhawks set to play in 2018 Duel in the Desert

2018 Duel in the Desert
  Dec. 19-20
  Las Vegas, Nev.
  Cox Pavilion
  Jayhawk Radio Network

LAWRENCE, Kan. — Kansas women’s basketball heads west to Las Vegas for the 2018 Duel in the Desert for a pair of games on December 19-20. The Jayhawks tip off the tournament with Washington State on Wednesday, Dec. 19 at 4:30 p.m., inside the Cox Pavilion.

Kansas will face either Northwestern or Wichita State the following day and after two games the champion of the desert division will be crowned. Both games will be available on the Jayhawk Radio Network and FloHoops.com. 


  • KU’s 7-1 start has garnered national attention as the Jayhawks are receiving votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll. Kansas has received votes in the Coaches Poll in all six weeks, including preseason, as well as receiving votes in the AP Top 25 Poll in week 5.
  • The Jayhawks have been getting out to a fast start, outscoring their opponents 155-86 in the first quarter.
  • Senior Christalah Lyons leads the league in assist/turnover ratio at 3.86, dishing out 27 assists with just seven turnovers on the season. Lyons is averaging 3.4 assists, which is the 13th best in the Big 12 Conference.
  • The Jayhawks have made their presence known from beyond the 3-point line, ranking third in the Big 12 in both 3-point field goal percentage (35.5 percent) and 3-point field goals made (7.5).
  • A trio of Jayhawks are averaging double digits to lead Kansas offensively. Sixth year Jessica Washington is leading the way with 15.5 points per game with seniors Lyons and Kylee Kopatich adding 10.1 and 10.0 points, respectively.
  • Four Jayhawks are shooting 35 percent or better from long range. Washington leads Kansas at 43.2 percent followed by junior Mariane De Carvalho (40 percent), Kopatich (36.8 percent) and Lyons (35 percent).
  • Senior Brianna Osorio is third in the conference, connecting on 86.4 percent of her free throw attempts. Osorio has missed just three free throws on the season.

Record on Dec. 19: 6-3
In a 94-63 victory over Chicago on Dec. 19, 1992, Kansas shot 9-of-14 from the 3-point line and outscored Illinois-Chicago 50-17 in the first half. Lisa Tate contributed a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds.

Record on Dec. 20: 6-3
Kansas women’s basketball’s fourth quarter run lifted the Jayhawks to a 72-58 victory over Iona, their ninth win of the season on Dec. 20, 2017 inside Hynes Athletics Center. Austin Richardson notched her first career double-double with a game-high 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Kansas bounced back after Nebraska handed the Jayhawks their first and only loss of the season to date. KU went on to beat Grambling State (12/9) behind impressive defensive efforts and the offensive efforts of three seniors. The Jayhawks rank among the best in the Big 12 defensively trailing only No. 3/4 Baylor in field goal percentage defense. Kansas is keeping its opponents to shooting just 32.7 percent from the floor and 28.2 percent from long range, which is third-best in the league behind the Lady Bears and West Virginia. Offensively, a trio of seniors are leading Kansas’ scoring effort. Sixth year senior Jessica Washington is posting 15.5 points per game, while seniors Christalah Lyons and Kylee Kopatich are averaging 10.1 and 10.0 points, respectively.

Washington State sits just below the .500 mark at 4-5 on the season. The Cougars beat Nebraska, 87-84, in double-overtime earlier this season, which was the same team that handed Kansas its only loss. Like the Jayhawks, WSU gets off to a hot start, outscoring its opponents 341-260 in the first half, while the Cougars’ opponents have outscored them 351-271 in the second half. Washington State is averaging 69.9 points, while dishing out 14.9 assists in nine games thus far. Defensively, the Cougars allow their opponents to shoot 42.4 percent from the field, but just 29.6 percent from long range. Three Cougars lead the offensive charge, averaging double-digit scoring efforts. Borislava Hristova leads the way with 21.7 points, while Chanelle Molina and Alexys Swedlund conclude WSU’s double-figure scorers with 15.1 and 11.7, respectively. Maria Kostourkova leads the Cougars’ defensive efforts with 9.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks.

Northwestern started the 2018-19 campaign on a 5-0 start before dropping three-straight games. The Wildcats are averaging 70.9 points and 15.9 assists per game led by four double-figure scorers and three players with 15 or more assists on the season. Lindsey Pulliam leads the Wildcats offense with 15.5 points and 15 assists followed by Abi Scheid with 12.2 points and 15 assists, Jordan Hamilton with 12.0 points and 31 assists and Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah with 11.8 points, 12.0 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. Defensively, Kunaiyi-Akpanah leads the Wildcats, but collectively Northwestern is forcing 17.5 turnovers and holding its opponents to below 40 percent from the floor.

Kansas’ in-state rival, Wichita State, is 6-4 on the season with their most recent win coming over Grambling State, 70-61, after previously suffering a three-game losing streak. The Jayhawks previously beat the Grambling State (12/9), 76-45. Should the Shockers and Jayhawks face off, Kansas will be the second Big 12 team that Wichita State will face. WSU averages 63.7 points per game, shooting 43.6 percent from the field. The Shockers don’t have any players scoring in double figures and are led by Sabrina Lozada-Cabba with 9.9 points and Carla Bremaud with 9.3 points on the offensive end. Lozada-Cabba leads the Shockers with 6.1 rebounds and 1.0 blocks per game. Wichita State’s opponents have forced 19.4 turnovers, while the Shockers have only forced 18.5 turnovers.

Senior Brianna Osorio is heading back home to Las Vegas for the Duel in the Desert. Osorio is one of two Jayhawks in Kansas women’s basketball history to come to KU from Nevada. The 5-8 guard joins Jada Brown as the only two Jayhawks from Las Vegas. Osorio is averaging 6.8 points, 1.8 assists and 2.4 rebounds, while shooting a team-leading 86.4 percent from the charity stripe.

Coming off of an impressive junior campaign where she garnered All-Big 12 Honorable Mention honors, senior Christalah Lyons has settled into a groove leading the Kansas offense this season. Lyons is averaging 10.1 points, while dishing out 3.4 assists per game so far this season. The Dallas native posted a team-best 18 points, five steals and one assist to lead the Jayhawks to their seventh victory of the year. The 5-5 guard has just seven turnovers thus far, while dishing out 27 assists, for the best assist to turnover ratio in the Big 12 Conference and the third best in the nation.

Coming off a season-ending injury, sixth year Jessica Washington is averaging a team-leading 15.5 points, which is the 11th-best in the Big 12 Conference. She is also averaging 3.2 rebounds and 2.7 assists in just six games. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native earned Big 12 Player of the Week honors during the third week of the season after posting her third career 30-point performance against George Mason (11/21). Washington has netted double figures in five of the six games she’s appeared in this season.

Kansas has put on stifling defensive performances game in and game out thus far in the 2018-19 season. The Jayhawks boast the second best field goal percentage defense in the Big 12 and 12th best in the nation. Three Jayhawks rank among the top-12 in steals, while KU is second as a team in the steals category, averaging 10.0. Christalah Lyons leads Kansas with 2.0 per game (T-5th), while Kylee Kopatich (8th) and Brianna Osorio (T-12th) are averaging 1.9 and 1.5 steals

The Jayhawks have forced an impressive 157 turnovers this season, including forcing a season-high 22 turnovers at LSU. While Kansas has been forcing a lot of turnovers, they have limited their own. The Jayhawks are one of two teams in the Big 12 with less than 110 turnovers on the season with 108. West Virginia is the only team with fewer than 100 with 86. KU’s 108 turnovers are the 42nd fewest in the nation, while Kansas is second in the Big 12 and 26th in the nation in turnover margin.

The Jayhawks have made their presence known from beyond the 3-point line, ranking third in the Big 12 in both 3-point field goal percentage (35.5 percent) and 3-point field goals made (7.5) per game. Washington leads Kansas, shooting 43.2 percent from beyond the arc, and is one of four Jayhawks that is shooting 35 percent or better from the 3-point line. The Jayhawks were lights out from beyond the arc at LSU (11/29), connecting on 12 of their 21 attempts from long range. Kansas’ 12 3-pointers were the second-most triples made in a single game in Kansas program history and were just one 3-pointer shy of tying the program record (13).

With sophomore Bailey Helgren leading Kansas’ defensive efforts, the Jayhawks are fifth in the Big 12 with 5.0 blocked shots per game. Helgren along with redshirt-freshman Brittany Franklin and senior Austin Richardson all rank among the top- 12 rim protectors in the league. Averaging 1.5 blocks, Helgren is sixth in the Big 12, while Richardson (T-8th) is averaging 1.4 blocks and Franklin (12th) is averaging 1.1.

Following the Duel in the Desert and a brief holiday break, the Jayhawks return home to Allen Fieldhouse for their final nonconference matchup of the year against Vermont on December 30 at 12 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN+ and the Jayhawk Radio Network.





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