Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson didn’t notice any ill effects from her team’s upset of then-No. 7 Baylor in the Jayhawks’ game against No. 8 Oklahoma State on Wednesday night.
But Kansas just couldn’t score when it needed points the most.
The Jayhawks converted only one field goal in the final 9:25 of the second half — a too-little, too-late three-pointer with 38 seconds left — and Kansas couldn’t pull a second straight upset, falling 64-56 to the Cowgirls.
“We knew if we continued to get stops that it was OK for us to miss shots as long as we were getting stops also because then that means that they weren’t scoring,” guard Natalie Knight said. “We struggled a little bit too long on the offensive end and they capitalized on it.”
Tiffany Bias scored 14 points and Liz Donohoe added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Oklahoma State, which has won five straight Big 12 games for the first time since the 1997-98 season.
Brittany Atkins added 11 points for the Cowgirls, 17-1 and 6-1 Big 12, who trailed 10 minutes into the second half. A layup by Bias gave Oklahoma State a 46-45 lead – its first lead since 5-4 less than 4 minutes into the first half.
Kansas briefly regained the lead on a layup by CeCe Harper, but the Cowgirls took it right back on another layup by Bias.
Chelsea Gardner scored 15 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Jayhawks, 9-10 and 2-5.
A layup by Gardner gave Kansas a 43-37 lead 6 minutes into the second half, and it looked as though Kansas might pull another upset. But Donohoe sandwiched two jumpshots around a layup by Harper for Kansas, and Roshunda Johnson drilled a three-pointer to bring the Cowgirls within a point at 45-44. Bias took over from there with her two layups. She also turned a steal into a layup and drew a critical foul with 1 second on the shot clock later in the half.
“I think they did a really good job in the second half of just pressuring the ball,” Knight said. “About halfway through the second half they turned their defense up a notch.”
Another jumper from Donohoe put Oklahoma State up five with 2:30 remaining as Kansas’ poor shooting derailed its hopes for an upset. Asia Boyd hit a three-pointer with 38 seconds left – Kansas’ first field goal in almost 9 minutes – but that was the Jayhawks’ only field goal after Harper’s layup. The Jayhawks were seven of 30 from the field in the final half.
“We’re just absolutely out of sorts under the 10-minute mark,” Henrickson said. “We weren’t disciplined and we weren’t aggressive.”
Kansas used a 14-2 run to erase an early deficit in the first half and grab a 14-7 lead, but the Cowgirls’ jump shooting allowed them to slowly chip away at the lead.
Kansas received a big blow with a little more than six minutes left in the half when Gardner suffered a right ankle injury when she was called for a charge. She tried to stand up once, but had to go back down to the floor, and required assistance to walk off the court. She was sidelined the remainder of the half, but returned and played 14 minutes in the second half.
Oklahoma State made stopping Gardner a priority in the second half, and it worked.
“They were dropping their guards from the opposite side and basically double-teaming me on the inside so I couldn’t get the right-hand shot,” Gardner said.
At the time of Gardner’s injury, Kansas was up by five, but Oklahoma State quickly closed the deficit with her out of the game.
Atkins hit a jumper to bring the Cowgirls within three points, then made one of two free throws on Oklahoma State’s next possession. Donohoe’s layup evened the score at 26, but then Kansas used three-point buckets from Dakota Gonzalez and Boyd to regain the lead.
Gonzalez hit a jumper just before the halftime buzzer to give Kansas a 34-28 lead at the break.
“In the first half, I thought we did a really good job of answering runs,” Henrickson said. “Offensively, we were much more aggressive in the first half than we were in the second half.”