Jayhawks Catch Fire, Down TCU, 81-64
Oklahoma City – Kansas women’s basketball put forward its best offensive performance of the season to bury TCU in the first round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, 81-64, on Friday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Jayhawks (6-24) racked up a long list of season-high and career-high marks in the upset victory. As a team, Kansas shot a season-best 54.7 percent from the field, including an 11-of-18 (.611) second-quarter performance. For the first time since Dec. 29, 2014, four different Jayhawks topped the double-figure scoring plateau. Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge led the way with a career-high 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting, and added on four rebounds, four assists and one steal. Sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle dished out a career-high four assists on her 15-point night, and freshman guard Kylee Kopatich swatted away a career-best two blocks to go along with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds of her own. Freshman forward Tyler Johnson matched her career-best with 12 points, on an efficient 5-of-7 from the field.
Sophomore guard AJ Alix led the Horned Frogs (16-14) with 16 points and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. TCU’s all-time leading scorer, senior guard Zahna Medley, was held to 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, but tallied a game-high six assists. Senior guard Veja Hamilton came off the bench to contribute 12 points and tie Alix with a game-best three steals.
The Horned Frogs struck first, while Kansas opened the game with three-straight turnovers, but the Jayhawks then rattled off nine unanswered points to claim the early lead. TCU faced turnover issues of its own, with five giveaways in less than five minutes of play.
Kansas then went cold for more than three minutes, allowing the Horned Frogs to work their way back into the game and level the score at 11-11 with 2:20 left in the first quarter. The Jayhawks then closed out the period on a 6-2 run, including a buzzer-beating triple from Kopatich, which brought her first-quarter scoring total to eight points.
Much like the opening period, TCU began the scoring in the second frame but Kansas then took over. Sinking seven of their first eight shots, the Jayhawks put together an 11-0 run. The lead reached as high as 15 points, when Cheadle’s third layup of the game gave Kansas the 32-17 advantage with four and a half minutes left in the half.
TCU looked to make another comeback before the end of the half, and utilized a streak of seven-consecutive points to pull within one possession, 35-32, with 1:34 left before the intermission. Kansas answered right back with a 7-0 run of its own, including a second buzzer-beater, this time a layup from junior forward Jada Brown, to carry a 42-32 lead into the break.
Another run of seven unanswered points, in favor of the Horned Frogs, cut Kansas’ lead back to three points by the 6:50 mark of the third quarter. Once again, the Jayhawks responded. Nine-straight points pushed the lead back to a more comfortable level, 51-39, with less than five minutes to play in the period. The margin hovered around 12 points for the remainder of the quarter, and despite connecting on four of the their last five shots, the Jayhawks could only grow their lead to 14 points.
TCU shortened its deficit to 10 points early into the final quarter, as Kansas made just one of its first five shots. However, the Jayhawks refused to let the Horned Frogs back into the game. Four-straight field goals put Kansas in the drivers seat, and TCU was forced to play the foul game. Kansas did not blink, draining eight of 12 attempts, and it was enough to seal the victory and move on to the next round of the Big 12 Championship.
Kansas 81, TCU 64
March 4, 2016 – Oklahoma City, Okla.
Chesapeake Energy Arena
- Kansas now trails TCU 6-5 in the series that began in 2009.
- The Jayhawks are now 2-0 against TCU in the Big 12 Championship.
- Kansas is now 13-19 in Big 12 Championship games.
- Kansas leads the series with TCU in neutral site games, 2-1.
- Kansas earned its first win in the Big 12 Championship since 2014.
- The Jayhawks shot a season-high 54.7 percent from the field.
- For the eighth-straight game, Kansas logged 10 or more assists, finishing the night with 13 dimes.
- Kansas gathered 32 points in the paint, its 16th game with 20 or more points inside.
- Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge posted a career-high 23 points, the highest scoring performance of any Jayhawk this season.
- Freshman guard Kylee Kopatich collected a career-high two blocks.
- Aldridge and Kopatich logged their 20th and 16th double-figure games of the season, respectively.
- Sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle dished out a career-high four assists
Kansas Head Coach Brandon Schneider
“Obviously, just really proud of our team’s effort. We have not had the kind of year that we wanted from a record perspective. But I really have to give our players a lot of credit. The last three weeks I think we’ve gotten significantly better. It’s nice to see them put it all together tonight in a winning effort.”
On where the turnaround has come from:
“Well, you know, we’re such a young team, I really think we’re probably the youngest team in the country in the Power Five conferences, start three freshman, two sophomores, new staff. But, again, I really think — you know, we’ve gotten better and when you’re not having a very good season it would be very easy for those young guys to quit and start looking forward to next season, but they’ve really stuck with us.
We’ve had really good practices and it’s one of those nights where we finally make some shots and I thought we executed really well for the most part on the offensive end.”
On the quality of shooting in tonight’s contest:
“I thought we got the ball ret at this close to the basket a lot and I think that’s really important for us. Then we had the right people, you know, make some timely threes for us as well. I was disappointed at halftime, we were on the wrong side of the free-throw battle and we preached working hard to try to get to the bonus first there in the third quarter and I thought we cut really hard and got ’em to foul us some on those cuts and got to the bonus pretty quickly.”
Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge
On carrying a lead into the fourth quarter and hanging on:
“You know, I think we have had a couple of games this season where we went into the half up and didn’t finish very well at all. I think it was just a total change of mindset for us coming out of the half. I think that we knew what it felt like to be on the other end of it, and we didn’t want it to happen again. So I think our girls did a great job of coming out, and we always talk about the first five minutes. I think we did a great job coming out the first five minutes with a lot of energy and that carried on through the third quarter and in the fourth quarter we preached first five minutes and strung some stops together and did a really good job finishing.”
On how the enthusiasm from this game can carry over against Texas:
“Definitely, I think we are going to use all the energy we can get playing against Texas. We are excited about the opportunity, like the Big 12 we see them — we have seen them twice this year. So we’ve got to see what happens, but we’ve got to come with a lot of energy, though.”
Sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle
On carrying a lead into the fourth quarter and hanging on:
“Same with Lauren. We talked about keeping our composure, past games we haven’t been able to keep the lead and I thought we did a great job of staying together as a team. We had some ups and downs, but we stuck together and finished strong.”
On how it feels after coming up short in the Feb. 29 matchup against TCU:
“It was great. I thought we did a great job of preparing for this game and we came in with the mentality that this is going to be our game that we’re going to win.”
With the win over TCU, the Jayhawks will face the No. 2 seed Texas Longhorns in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Championship. Tipoff is set for 6 p.m., on Saturday, March 5. The game will be broadcast on the Fox Sports Network as well as the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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