Kansas' defense stifles Cowgirls, 67-49
LAWRENCE, Kan. – With the help of a stifling defensive effort, Kansas women’s basketball put together its most dominating Big 12 Conference victory under head coach Brandon Schneider after surging past Oklahoma State, 67-49, on Wednesday evening inside Allen Fieldhouse.
On a night where not all of Kansas’ own shots were falling, the entire team hunkered down and committed to winning the game the gritty way – on the defensive end. The Jayhawks forced 25 turnovers, including three shot-clock violations, their fourth game this year forcing at least 25 turnovers. Even when the Cowgirls could get shots off, OSU could not convert, shooting 16-of-52 (30.8%), the lowest field goal percentage allowed by KU in Big 12 play this year.
Kansas (8-16, 2-11 Big 12) was led on the offensive end by a balanced scoring effort from the guard trio of redshirt junior Jessica Washington, sophomore Aisia Robertson and senior Timeka O’Neal. All three did most of their damage from beyond the arc, shooting a combined 8-of-15 (53.3%) from 3-point land. Robertson and O’Neal registered season-high points with 14 and 13, respectively, while Washington notched her ninth-straight game in double figures with 12 points.Redshirt junior guard
Mandy Coleman led Oklahoma State (13-10, 3-9 Big 12) in scoring with 19 points and grabbed 13 rebounds for her fourth double-double on the year. OSU’s only other scorer in double-digits was Kaylee Jensen, who dropped in 11 points before fouling out.
The Jayhawks asserted themselves defensively from the get-go, halting Oklahoma State on its first five possessions en route to building a quick 8-0 lead. Even after breaking the seal with its first bucket nearly four minutes into the game, the Cowgirls struggled from the floor and put up just six points in the first quarter. It was Kansas’ second time this season, and first in conference play, holding its opponent to six points in the opening quarter.
Oklahoma State’s Jensen was the only player who could seemingly figure out the KU defense, accounting for all of her team’s first quarter points. The center showed range with a 3-pointer midway through the quarter to bring the Cowgirls within four in a 9-5 game, the closest OSU would come to matching the Jayhawks the rest of the night. Kansas added five more points and OSU could only muster a Jensen free throw the rest of the quarter, and the Jayhawks held on to a 14-6 lead at the end of the first.
Sophomore guard Jayde Christopher provided the spark at the beginning of the second quarter to ensure Kansas’ lead would remain safe. Christopher was fouled on a drive and converted both the layup and the free throw for the old-fashioned three-point play. She followed on the next possession with another slash to the basket, opening the quarter with a quick 5-0 run.
Once again, Oklahoma State could not figure out the Kansas defense to open the quarter, scoring one point in the first 3:50 of the second quarter. The Cowgirls manage to score another eight points before the end of the quarter to bring their halftime total to 15, the fewest points allowed by the Jayhawks in a half during Big 12 play.
A 15-second sequence at the end of the half fully swung momentum in Kansas’ favor and demonstrated the type of two-way play that Schneider knows his team is capable of. Robertson drove to the basket and wowed the crowd with a reverse layup, but was prevented from celebrating by OSU, who was already pushing the ball down the floor. The entire team took a pause to celebrate the team’s great play once junior guard Chayla Cheadle stopped the transition by drawing a charging foul. The pumped-up Jayhawks ran into their locker room holding a 29-15 halftime lead.
The second half opened with both teams trading baskets for the first seven minutes until Kansas ripped off the lid with a Cheadle layup and consecutive triples from O’Neal and Washington, extending the lead to 21 points. As the lid opened up for Kansas, it almost completely shut for OSU, who managed to eke out six points from the free throw line for the remainder of the third quarter. With one quarter remaining in its best Big 12 outing thus far, Kansas maintained a 49-32 lead.
Kansas did not let up in the final 10 minutes, pushing the leading as far as 24 before settling into a comfortable 18-point lead at the 2:55 mark. From there, Kansas traded baskets with OSU until the buzzer sounded and the scoreboard read 67-49, avenging KU’s four-point loss earlier this season to the Cowgirls and marking a milestone in Schneider’s tenure with the Jayhawks.
Kansas hits the road to complete the 2017 series against Texas on Saturday, Feb. 11. Tipoff against the Longhorns is slated for 1:30 p.m., on the Longhorn Television Network and the Jayhawk Radio Network.
KUAthletics.com: The official online source for Kansas Athletics, Williams Education Fund contributions, tickets, merchandise, multimedia, photos and much, much more.