Kansas can't solve No. 20 Oklahoma in Big 12 Opener

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LAWRENCE, Kan. –  In its first Big 12 Conference contest of the season, Kansas women’s basketball led for the first seven minutes of the game before No. 20 Oklahoma fended off the Jayhawks’ hot start to run away with the victory, 84-54, on Thursday night inside Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks (6-6, 0-1 Big 12) got off to a fast start and led by as many as eight points early on, but Oklahoma (10-3, 1-0 Big 12) rebounded from its deficit to start the game to gain its first lead in the waning minutes of the first period. Once the Sooners took control of the lead, they never relinquished it for the remainder of the ballgame.
KU redshirt junior guard Jessica Washington led all scorers after netting 22 points on an 8-for-16 (.500) effort from the field. Washington’s 22 points marks the second game this season to reach the 2-point plateau. Redshirt sophomore guard McKenzie Calvert was the only other Jayhawk to record double figures with 13 points, her eighth double-digit performance of the season.Caelynn Manning-Allen
Oklahoma had four players turn out double figure scoring efforts, led by redshirt senior guard Maddie Manning who netted 17 points. Redshirt senior guard Peyton Little and freshman guard Chelsea Dungee recorded 15 points apiece, while freshman center Nancy Mulkey scored 14 points. Mulkey was also just a rebound shy of a double-double after grabbing a team best nine boards.
Washington put Kansas on the scoreboard first with a 6-0 run before Oklahoma netted its first points of the game. Kansas jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the early minutes of the first quarter, but the Sooners narrowed the margin with five unanswered points. KU owned a 10-7 lead at the first media timeout of the game and just under five minutes remaining in the opening period.
With three minutes left, Oklahoma took its first lead, 12-11, of the game. OU closed out the first quarter with a 19-4 run, but Kansas freshman guard Jayde Christopher ended the first 10 minutes on a high after making a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Despite Christopher’s buzzer-beating shot from long range, the Sooners had a 21-14 advantage after the first 10 minutes.  
After getting into early foul trouble, Washington checked back into the game midway through the stanza and scored six unanswered points to cut Kansas’ deficit to seven. With her six second-quarter points, Washington reached double-digits for the seventh time this season. Washington’s second make from long range cut OU’s lead, 33-25, but Oklahoma answered with five-straight points to regain its double-digit advantage.
Washington led all scorers in the first half with 17 points, but Oklahoma managed to head into the locker room at the break with a double-digit lead. KU has trailed at intermission in six games this year and is 1-5 when trailing at the half. Despite ending the first half making only one of its last five attempts, Oklahoma owned a 42-31 advantage after the first 20 minutes of play.
Kansas opened the second half with an 8-2 run with all KU points coming from Washington and Calvert. The early second-half run cut the deficit to just five points with eight minutes to play in the quarter. As quick as the Jayhawks worked to erase OU’s lead, the Sooners charged back ahead to regain their double-figure lead, 54-42, with a 10-3 run. Oklahoma closed out the third quarter with 11-0 run and took a 68-44 lead into the final 10 minutes of regulation.
In the fourth period, KU’s offense was ignited by five unanswered points, which was sparked by sophomore guard Kylee Kopatich’s make from long range. The Olathe, Kansas product finished the game with seven points and led the squad with nine boards. Just as the Jayhawks’ offense was getting started in the final quarter, Oklahoma halted the run and stole the momentum. For the second year in a row, Oklahoma defeated Kansas in the first game of its conference slate, as the Sooners ran away with the victory, 84-54.

Kansas travels to Baylor on Sunday, Jan. 1, for its first Big 12 Conference road game of the season and first game of the new year. Tipoff against the Lady Bears is set for 2 p.m., on Fox Sports Southwest and the Jayhawk Radio Network.

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