Kansas had the rare opportunity to celebrate a win over Baylor earlier this season.
On Saturday afternoon, the Bears made sure it did not happen again.
Top-seeded Baylor ran roughshod over the Jayhawks en route to an 81-47 victory in a Big 12 women’s tournament quarterfinal contest at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
No. 8 Kansas ended its season at 13-19. It was the program’s first losing season since the 2006-07 campaign and came after back-to-back NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearances.
Baylor advanced to a Sunday semifinal contest against Oklahoma State.
“Defensively (it) didn’t matter what we were in,” KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “They just looked at us and said: We’re going to rip it and drive on you and offensive rebound and get you in transition. Give them a tremendous amount of credit. They came out and ran a buzz saw and we didn’t have an answer defensively.”
The Bears, 27-4, flexed their muscles from the opening tip, building a double-digit lead just minutes into the contest and then racing to a 33-9 lead with 7:56 left in the first half.
How bad were things for the Jayhawks? At that point, Chelsea Gardner had all of her team’s points while her teammates had missed their first 13 shots.
Baylor led 46-20 at intermission and built its lead to 37 points late in the contest.
KU dealt the Bears a 76-60 loss in January, snapping Baylor’s 44-game conference winning streak. That setback wasn’t forgotten by an inspired Baylor squad.
“I guess we knew we had to come out with more intensity,” Imani Wright said. “We still remember the loss that we took, so we felt like we needed to start fast and keep it going.”
Gardner, as she had been much of the season, was the Jayhawks’ bright spot. She ended her junior season with a 21-point, nine-rebound performance. She had a Big 12-best 15 double-doubles this season.
“I think I’ve grown a lot this year,” Gardner said. “I’ve grown the outside game in knocking down jump shots, and I’ll grow inside, too. I think next year I just need to keep working hard in the offseason and just work hard every day.”
It turned out to be a rebuilding year for the Jayhawks. Henrickson pointed to the loss of three starters and inconsistency issues as playing a part in the tough season.
KU’s two-day stay in Oklahoma City hit both ends of the spectrum. The team celebrated a rare one-possession victory (an 87-84 overtime triumph over Kansas State) on Friday before suffering the season’s worst loss (34 points to Baylor).
“It’s hard to talk about one-possession games after this drubbing, but I think we’re in 12 or 13 one-possession games, and we win the one last night and find ways to make plays on both ends of the floor, and we’re that close,” Henrickson said. “But there’s such a fine line between losing and winning, there really is. In this league there have been a large amount of one-possession games — like there has been historically in this league — so we’ve got to be able to shore that up where every possession matters, every shot matters.
“Moving forward ... we’ve got a crop of young kids that I really believe will come in and help us.”