No. 15 Texas tops Kansas, 66-54
LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s basketball stuck to its defensive strategy, but offensive woes hindered a Jayhawk upset, as Texas outlasted KU, 66-54, on Wednesday evening inside Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks (6-8, 0-3 Big 12) managed to stay within two possessions of the nationally-ranked Longhorns (9-4, 3-0 Big 12) for most of the evening, but a third quarter 19-8 run proved to be the turning point for UT in the first meeting of the season between the two programs. KU saw costly scoring droughts in the opening minutes of the ballgame and the final minutes of the third quarter, which the Longhorns took advantage of and capitalized on Kansas’ miscues from the floor.
Although KU faced several stretches without scoring, the Jayhawks’ defense forced an impressive 31 turnovers, including 13 steals. Kansas has swiped 10 or more steals in seven games this season, including two of last three.
Sophomore Kylee Kopatich
For the third game in a row, redshirt junior guard Jessica Washington led all scorers with 23 points, her team-leading ninth double-figure scoring effort. Washington has reached the 20-point plateau three times this season and was four points shy of her career-high mark. Washington recorded her first career double-double after also grabbing 10 boards. Sophomore guard Kylee Kopatich notched double digits for the first time in Big 12 Conference action after netting 14 points. Kopatich also registered four steals and two blocks.
Junior guard Brooke McCarty paced Texas’ offense with 15 points on a 4-for-10 effort from the field. She also dished out three of UT’s 13 assists. Sophomore forward Joyner Holmes scored 13 points, while sophomore guard Ariel Atkins contributed 12.
Texas jumped out to an early lead with an 8-0 run before Washington put Kansas on the board with a free throw. Washington’s trip to the charity stripe ignited a 7-2 KU run, which brought the Jayhawks within three. Although Kansas fought back to within a possession, the Longhorns finished the period with four unanswered points and owned a 17-9 lead over the Jayhawks after the first 10 minutes of play.
Texas’ first made basket of the second quarter gave the Longhorns their first double-digit advantage of the night, but Washington responded by netting five unanswered points to keep Kansas within reach of the Longhorns, 19-14. Washington’s ninth point of the quarter narrowed UT’s lead to three before Texas quickly jumped back ahead by six midway through the period, 26-20. Kopatich’s first 3-pointer of the night sliced the deficit in half, leaving the Longhorns ahead by three in the final minutes of the half. Texas held off the Jayhawks in the waning minutes of the first 20 minutes and headed into the locker room with a 35-30 lead at halftime.
Despite cold-shooting in the first quarter, Kansas’ offense heated up as the game wore on. Washington led all scorers with 16 first-half points behind 6-of-13 shooting. The Tulsa, Oklahoma native also grabbed five boards and dished out three assists. Kopatich finished the half with eight points, including a 2-for-3 mark from long range.
Washington scored first for Kansas in the second half and went on to spark a 6-2 run midway through the third quarter, as Kansas trailed the Longhorns, 39-36. The Longhorns went on an 8-0 run to put some distance between themselves and the Jayhawks before Washington took charge and ended UT’s run with a pair of free throws. A scoring drought for Kansas over the final two minutes of the third quarter allowed Texas to increase its advantage over the Jayhawks, 54-38. The visitors from Austin ended the period with seven unanswered points.
Redshirt sophomore guard McKenzie Calvert knocked down back-to-back buckets to open the fourth quarter, but Texas kept its momentum going in the final period and drained 2-of-2 attempts from long range. Down the stretch, Kansas was clutch from the free throw line, converting 6-of-7 from the charity stripe, but it wasn’t enough as Texas outlasted Kansas, 66-54.
The Jayhawks hit the road for a two-game tilt away from Allen Fieldhouse starting Sunday, Jan. 8 at Iowa State. Tipoff in Ames is slated for 1 p.m., on ESPNU and the Jayhawk Radio Network.
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