Kansas races past Fort Hays State in exhibition opener

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LAWRENCE, Kan. – Kansas women’s basketball opened its 2016 exhibition slate with a run-and-gun 98-71 showcase against Fort Hays State Sunday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse. 

KU fans got a good look at some of the new additions to the Jayhawks’ lineup, with four of head coach Brandon Schneiders’ transfers combining for 77 minutes in Kansas’ opening exhibition game against Fort Hays State.

Redshirt sophomore guard McKenzie Calvert and redshirt junior guard Jessica Washington, who sat out the 2015-16 season due to NCAA transfer rules, proved the wait was worth it, teaming up for 33 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds. The 27-point margin of victory was larger than any last season, including the 80-54 exhibition victory over Pittsburg State.

Individually, Calvert accrued a game-high-tying 18 points along with junior guard Chayla Cheadle, while Washington stuffed the final box score with 15 points, eight rebounds and eight assists. As a whole, the Jayhawks tallied 26 assists, 11 steals and eight blocks in the unofficial contest. 

Almost two minutes passed before either team scored its first basket, when Fort Hays State’s Nikola Kacperska sunk a jumper at the 1:47 mark. That would be Fort Hays’ only lead of the game, as the Jayhawks scored their first seven points in quick succession. Calvert had the green light from the opening tip, shooting seven attempts in the first quarter to lead KU with eight points in the opening act.Redshirt sophomore McKenzie Calvert
Washington’s presence was also felt immediately, scoring five points and assisting three more buckets in the first quarter. It was familiar faces who provided the highlight of the first 10 minutes, when sophomore guard Jayde Christopher lofted the ball to a soaring sophomore guard Aisia Robertson, who laid it in before her feet touched the ground. Kansas led the Tigers, 21-13, after the first 10 minutes.

Fort Hays would not concede easily to the Jayhawks, pulling within two on a 10-0 run that spanned two minutes in the second quarter. Cheadle fought through contact on a layup to put an end to the Tigers’ push with a three-point play to extend the Kansas lead, 31-26. Both squads traded baskets for the rest of the quarter and the Jayhawks entered the locker room at halftime with a precarious 37-31 lead.

Kansas quickly buried any doubt and returned to the court with an 8-0 run coming out of the halftime break. Buoyed by a 61.9 percent field goal percentage, the Jayhawks were able to outscore the Tigers 28-18 in the third quarter. Schneider’s vision of tough and together was never more evident than in the third quarter, as the team registered eight assists and played gritty defensively, tallying four blocks and three steals.

The Kansas offense remained unrelenting in the final act, dropping 33 points and outscoring the Tigers by 11. KU owned multiple five and six-point runs in the fourth quarter put on by different combinations of the much-deeper lineup. A Christopher transition assist once again excited the Jayhawk crowd, her behind-the-back toss to Robertson helped put a stamp on the 98-71 win.

UP NEXT: Kansas concludes its exhibition slate with Washburn on Sunday, Nov. 6 at 2 p.m., inside Allen Fieldhouse.

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