For more than 28 minutes, the Kansas women’s basketball team looked poised to score a victory in its Big 12 Conference opener against West Virginia.
It was the last 12 minutes that made the difference.
West Virginia pieced together a 16-0 run in the middle part of the second half, taking control in a 65-55 victory over KU on Thursday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
In all, Kansas watched a 46-41 lead disintegrate as the Mountaineers dominated the rebounding battle. West Virginia outrebounded KU 47-28 and finished with 23 offensive rebounds. As a result, the Mountaineers had 20 second-chance points to Kansas’ two. Some of the issue came when KU went into a zone defense after falling behind early, but KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said the Jayhawks struggled to rebound out of their man-to-man defense as well.
“The rest of it is just sheer toughness,” Henrickson said. “We said, ‘We’re not asking you to jump higher today, we’re asking you in a moment to do your job, to go back and hit somebody and then go up and get (a rebound) like an athlete.”
Kansas, 7-6 overall, dropped to 0-1 in the Big 12, while West Virginia improved to 12-1 overall and 1-0 in the Big 12. Kansas guard Natalie Knight, an Olathe South graduate, led the Jayhawks with 15 points.
The Jayhawks led 28-27 at halftime after falling behind 13-3 in the opening minutes, but West Virginia’s size and athleticism won out. The Jayhawk will now travel to Big 12 favorite Baylor on Sunday.