Kansas skates by Arizona, 75-51, with dominant bench and paint play

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – For the second game in a row, Kansas women’s basketball found the winning combination on the hardwood, as solid play in the paint and from the bench led the Jayhawks to a 75-51 rout of Arizona on Saturday afternoon, inside Allen Fieldhouse. 

Despite the frigid conditions outside, the Jayhawks’ (5-5) offense caught fire shooting a season-best 47.4 percent from the field, including over 50 percent shooting efforts from redshirt junior guard Jessica Washington and redshirt sophomore guard McKenzie Calvert. Saturday’s game marked the second in a row where Kansas shot 40 percent or better from the floor. 

After a 6-of-11 effort, Washington led the Jayhawks with 16 points, her fifth double-digit scoring performance of the season. Calvert added 14 points off the bench, including a 3-for-7 mark from long range. Kansas ended the game shooting 33.3 percent from the 3-point line, as four different Jayhawks connected on attempts from beyond the arc. With Calvert’s 14 points, KU’s bench netted 38 points compared to the Wildcats’ 16. 

Senior Caelynn Manning-Allen

Going into the game, Arizona (7-2) was averaging 73.8 points per game and KU’s defense held the Wildcats to a season-low 51 points. Senior guard Malena Washington led all scorers with 17 points, with 15 of those coming in the second half. A majority of Arizona’s points came outside the paint after the Jayhawks won the battle inside, 36-18. 

The first quarter was all about defense for the Jayhawks, as Kansas grabbed 11 rebounds in the first 10 minutes, along with three steals and collected two charges from senior forward Sydney Umeri and Washington.

Offensively, Washington struck first for Kansas with a layup, which Arizona senior forward LaBrittney Jones answered with a 3-pointer. But, Washington followed up with four quick points of her own giving Kansas an early 6-3 lead. Senior guard Timeka O’Neal did what she does best and gave KU their first 3-pointer of the afternoon. O’Neal his connecting on 47.4 percent of her attempts from long range.  

The Wildcats continued to keep up the intensity on their own offensive end, keeping the game to within three points before the Jayhawks went on a 7-0 run ignited by a deep 3-pointer from Calvert and four points from sophomore guard Aisia Robertson. Kansas ended the first quarter with a 10-point lead, 16-6.

Washington started the second quarter the same way she started the first – with a layup. Senior forward Caelynn Manning-Allen grew KU’s lead to 14, 20-6, with a quick basket. Arizona cut the lead down to nine, 22-11, with a jumper from Washington followed by a 3-point play by senior forward Brianna Workman.

Robertson sank two free throws to end the Jayhawks three and a half minute scoring slump. The Wildcats cut the lead to seven with four quick points, but a 3-pointer from Calvert would extend the Jayhawks lead back to double-digits, 25-15. After a layup from senior forward Jada Brown, Calvert added another three points, this time the old fashioned way and Kansas’ advantage continued to grow in the opening half.

JaLea Bennett ended KU’s 8-0 run and Arizona’s 3-minute scoring drought with a free throw, but Kansas maintained their lead, 30-16, late in the second quarter. Workman attempted to cut the Jayhawks lead with a four unanswered points, but the run was interrupted by a Calvert layup and a couple of free throws from Brown. The Jayhawks maintained their double-figure lead, 34-20, going into the locker room at half time.

Umeri got the Jayhawks started in the opening minute of the second half with a hook shot. Sophomore guard Kylee Kopatich got on the scoreboard for the first time with a 3-pointer from the corner, extending KU’s lead, 39-20. Jones ended KU’s 5-0 run with a layup and a 3-point play from Arizona’s Washington. Junior guard Chayla Cheadle got on the board with layup after an electric post move, which ignited Kansas’ bench. The Jayhawks continued to add to its advantage throughout the third quarter, and led by as many as 20. Calvert knocked down her third 3-pointer of the afternoon.  Every time the Wildcats attempted a comeback throughout the third quarter, the Jayhawks had an answer and headed to the final period with a 54-35 advantage.

Arizona’s Washington scored first in the final quarter, the first time the Wildcats scored first all game. The Wildcats went on an 8-0 run to start the final quarter, cutting the lead to 11 before head coach Brandon Schneider called a timeout. Coming out of the timeout, Brown put an end to KU’s nearly three minute scoring drought and took the lead back to 13, 56-43.

Arizona wasn’t giving up and continued to try and chip away at the Jayhawks lead with two more quick baskets. Each attempted Wildcat run was ultimately ended by a Jayhawk basket – this time, another 3-pointer by Kopatich that sparked a 10-0 Kansas run. Evans briefly stopped the run at 10 for the Jayhawks, but Umeri answered right back, 71-49. After outscoring the Wildcats in all four quarters, the Jayhawks ended Arizona’s winning streak with a 75-51 victory.

The Jayhawks continue their five-game homestand with UC Riverside on Wednesday, Dec. 21, at 7 p.m. The matchup will air on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN3 and the Jayhawk Radio Network. 

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