Kansas prevails over Arkansas, 71-60, in Big 12/SEC Challenge
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Since head coach Brandon Schneider took over the Kansas women’s basketball program, the Jayhawks have recorded an impressive streak of not surrendering leads in the final five minutes of a ballgame. Sunday afternoon the streak lived on after KU prevailed over Arkansas, 71-60, inside Allen Fieldhouse.
In the third edition of the Big 12/SEC Challenge, KU (7-0) improved to 17-0 when owning a lead in the final five minutes of a game. The Jayhawks’ seven-game win streak to open the 2017-18 season, ties for the best start since the 2011-12 and 2012-13 campaigns.
Junior guard Kylee Kopatich registered another career afternoon after netting a career-best 26 points to lead the Jayhawks’ offense. Kopatich added four rebounds and one assist in KU’s victory over the Razorbacks (4-3). Junior guard Christalah Lyons notched her seventh-straight double-digit scoring effort with 15 points, while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out three assists. Redshirt sophomore Tyler Johnson added 10 points and five rebounds for the Jayhawks.
Arkansas was led by a trio of double-digit scorers in junior guard Malica Monk, senior guard Devin Cosper and sophomore guard Jailyn Mason. Monk led the Razorbacks with 21 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Cosper added 17 points and three rebounds in the loss, while Mason rounded out the trio of double-figure scorers with 10 points. Sophomore forward/center Kiara Williams grabbed 16 boards for the Razorbacks.
Despite starting the game off with a turnover that ended in an Arkansas basket, Lyons and junior guard Brianna Osorio got the Jayhawks rolling. Lyons immediately contributed on both ends of the floor laying it in at the basket and then taking two charges on the defensive end. Osorio separated Lyons charges with a pair of free throws that put Kansas up, 4-2. Following Lyons’ second charge, Osorio knocked in a layup and Lyons a free throw to put the Jayhawks up by three.
A pair of free throws from the Razorbacks in addition to a layup by Cosper put Arkansas on top, 8-7, before Kansas went on a 9-0 run. Senior forward Chayla Cheadle started the run with a 3-point basket followed by two buckets from Kopatich and a layup from Cheadle. KU’s 9-0 run extended its lead to 16-8. Arkansas ended the period with four unanswered points with a free throw and 3-pointer, both knocked in by junior guard/forward Keiryn Swenson.
The Jayhawks jumped out to a 6-2 run to start the second period. Lyons contributed a pair of layups that were broken up by a Cosper jumper. Johnson took her first charge of the afternoon and then followed up on the offensive end of the floor with a layup. The Jayhawks and Razorbacks traded off buckets for the remainder of the half, ending with back-to-back layups from Monk to put the Razorbacks within eight, 30-22, heading into the locker room.
Kopatich got into an offensive groove in the third period knocked down eight of her 16 points in the third quarter alone, including her first 3-point baskets of the game. Monk and Cosper led the way for the Razorbacks throughout the quarter, as the only players to score in the period through the first eight minutes. Following Kopatich’s second 3-point basket, Arkansas went on an 8-2 run to come with five, featuring long-range shots from both Monk and Cosper. Lyons took matters into her own hands for the final minutes of the quarter, accounting for seven of the Jayhawks’ last nine points of the period. Kansas held onto an eight-point lead going into the final 10 minutes of the game.
Johnson started the final quarter out for the Jayhawks laying in the first basket after a minute and a half of either team scoring. Monk responded with a three-point play the old-fashioned way before Johnson added another layup to keep the Jayhawks on top, 53-46. A pair of free throws by Cosper and a long-range bucket from Mason put the Razorbacks within four, but the Jayhawks lived out their “Tough and Together” mantra to maintain their lead through the final minutes of the game. Despite their best comeback attempts, Arkansas wasn’t able to stop the Jayhawks and fell 71-60 in the Big 12/SEC Challenge.
Kansas women’s basketball continues its nine-game homestand with Nebraska on Wednesday, December 6 at 7 p.m. inside Allen Fieldhouse.
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