Kansas takes Desert Division title at Duel in the Desert
LAS VEGAS – Kansas women’s basketball topped Northwestern, 66-57, in its second game of the Duel in the Desert Tournament to earn the Desert Division title on Thursday night inside Cox Pavilion.
Sixth year Jessica Washington was selected as the Desert Division MVP and senior Kylee Kopatich joined her on the All-Tournament Team. Washington and Kopatich each notched double-figure scoring in each of the two matchups with Washington leading Kansas (9-1) in scoring in both contests.
For the second-straight night Washington led the Jayhawks in scoring, posting 22 points for her second 20-point game of the 2018-19 season. Kopatich was KU’s next highest scorer with 19 points, while adding seven rebounds. Senior forward Austin Richardson concluded Kansas’ double-digit scorers with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The Jayhawks shot lights out from long range in the first 10 minutes of game two of the Duel in the Desert Tournament, connecting on six 3-pointers in the opening period. KU’s first five buckets all came from beyond the arc, with three different Jayhawks hitting treys in the quarter. Washington hit three 3-pointers in the first quarter, while Kopatich made two and Richardson added one of her own, leading Kansas to a 22-13 advantage after the first quarter.
Turnovers plagued the Jayhawks in the second quarter, suffering seven in the second period, which allowed Northwestern to come within six points after Kansas had a 12-point lead earlier in the period. Despite Northwestern’s tough defense and 6-0 run, the Jayhawks held onto an eight-point lead at the break thanks to back-to-back baskets by Kopatich and Washington.
Seven unanswered points by the Wildcats pulled Northwestern within one with just over five minutes remaining in the third period. Kansas was able to extend its lead back to eight heading into the fourth, ending the third period on a 9-2 run that was sparked by a Kopatich 3-pointer.
Clutch free throw shooting from senior Christalah Lyons and Kopatich in the fourth quarter sealed the 66-57 victory over the Wildcats, giving Kansas the Desert Division title.
1. Kansas (2-0)
2. Northwestern (1-1)
3. Washington State (1-1)
4. Wichita State (0-2)
MVP – Jessica Washington, Kansas
Kylee Kopatich, Kansas
Jaida Hampton, Wichita State
Chanelle Molina, Washington State
Lindsey Pulliam, Northwestern
- Kansas’ six 3-pointers in the first quarter marks the second time this season that the Jayhawks have made six 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes. KU also hit six long range buckets in the first quarter against George Mason (11/21).
- KU has now made 11 or more 3-pointers on three separate occasions. First 11 against George Mason (11/21), 12 at LSU (11/29) and now 11 against Northwestern.
- The Jayhawks suffered 19 turnovers against the Wildcats, the second-most turnovers in the 2018-19 campaign.
- Sixth year Jessica Washington’s 22 points mark the second time this season and the 15th time in her career that the guard has posted at least 20 points.
- Seniors Kylee Kopatich and Austin Richardson joined Washington in double-figure scoring for the second-consecutive game adding 19 and 14 points, respectively. Additionally, the duo each grabbed seven rebounds.
- Senior Christalah Lyons fell just shy of notching double figures with nine points and a season-high seven rebounds.
Head Coach Brandon Schneider
On the performance of the seniors:
“She (Jessica Washington) had a good tournament. I thought (Kylee) Kopatich had a really good tournament. Who really had a fantastic two games was Christalah Lyons. I thought she was a really heady, smart point guard there down the stretch and made winning plays.”
On the improvement of Kansas women’s basketball:
“There’s a process to building a program. We didn’t have a lot of scholarships early and we’ve tried to build it the right way. (We’ve) really tried to focus on chemistry and culture. I’m just really happy for our players.”
On Jessica Washington:
“She’s an elite talent. She can score it all three levels. I thought she also made some key assists tonight. She still probably isn’t back 100 percent, but definitely is the kind of kid that can draw a lot of attention.”
On the Jayhawk fans in Las Vegas:
“I’m so happy that we were able to play so well for the fans that came out to support us.”
The Jayhawks return to Allen Fieldhouse following a brief holiday break for their final nonconference matchup of the season. Kansas takes on Vermont on Sunday, Dec. 30 at 2 p.m. inside Allen Fieldhouse. The game can be watched on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN+ or listened to on the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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