Kansas dismantles Rhode Island, 72-36

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s basketball brought its most complete team effort to the hardwood, as sharp shooting and stifling defense were the perfect combination to deliver a 72-36 victory over Rhode Island on Sunday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse. 

Strong offensive and defensive efforts, along with career-high performance from sophomore Kylee Kopatich, were the key ingredients to cook up Brandon Schneider’s largest margin of victory at the helm of KU women’s basketball. Kopatich netted a career-best 19 points on 47 percent shooting, while also swiping five steals to lead Kansas’ effort on both sides of the floor.

Defensively, Kansas (4-5) held Rhode Island (4-7) to just 36 points, marking the first time KU held an opponent to under 40 points since upsetting Cal, who netted just 39 points, in 2014. The Jayhawks also held the Rams to just 29 percent shooting from the floor, while KU had no such trouble shooting after converting 41.3 percent of its attempts. Jessica Washington

Redshirt junior guard Jessica Washington and senior guard Timeka O’Neal rounded out the trio of Jayhawks to net double figures with 17 and 12 points, respectively. Washington contributed eight of her 17 points from the free throw line. Additionally, O’Neal launched exclusively from the three-point line, draining four of her season-high eight attempts. On the boards, junior forward Chayla Cheadle grabbed 10 rebounds, marking her second double-digit rebounding effort in three games.

Junior guard Charise Wilson led the Rams with 12 points, Rhode Island’s only double-digit scorer of the afternoon. Coming into the matchup, Wilson averaged 17 points per game and the Jayhawks held the scorer to 12 points behind 5-of-20 shooting.

A slow start from the Jayhawks gave Rhode Island an early advantage after the first 10 minutes of play. Kansas shot just 17 percent from the floor, as Washington netted all six of KU’s points in the opening period. The Rams connected on just 20 percent of its shot attempts and took a 7-6 lead into the second quarter.

Rhode Island hit a quick 3-pointer on its first possession in the second quarter to extend its lead to 10-6. From that point on, the second period belonged to Kansas, who outscored Rhode Island 30-7.  Kopatich poured in 13 points with the help of 3-of-6 shooting behind the arc. Joining Kopatich in Kansas’ 3-point barrage were O’Neal and Washington, who helped the Jayhawks shoot a combined 6-of-11 (55 percent) from the 3-point line in the second quarter.

Kansas played unselfish, disciplined basketball in the second quarter, recording nine assists to just one turnover. On the defensive side of the ball, Kansas held the old adage true about missing all the shots you don’t take, limiting Rhode Island to only eight field goal attempts. At the half, Kansas led Rhode Island 36-17.

Kansas continued corralling the Rams in the third quarter, limiting Rhode Island to 36 percent shooting and expanding its lead by five. Through the first five minutes of the third quarter, Rhode Island only managed to add three points to the scoreboard. Though the Rams were able to score eight more points before the buzzer, they were still outpaced by the Jayhawks, who dropped 18 points in the third quarter. O’Neal knocked down both of her 3-point attempts to lead Kansas in third-quarter scoring with six points. The Jayhawks hit 44 percent of their shots and entered the final stanza with a 54-30 lead.

The Jayhawks protected their 24-point lead by imposing a methodical pace on the fourth quarter, switching from their full-court pressure to their half-court defense. While the Rams were held to single-digit scoring, the Jayhawks recorded their third-straight set with 18 or more points, as Kansas ran away with a 72-36 victory.

The Jayhawks continue their five-game homestand with Arizona on Saturday, Dec. 17, at 12 p.m. The matchup will air on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN3 and the Jayhawk Radio Network. Saturday is public safety day inside Allen Fieldhouse with displays on the concourse and safety vehicles outside. Admission is $5 for all first responders. It’s also Jay Days where concessions will offer special pricing on popcorn and hot dogs. 

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