NCAA Tournament

KU women open NCAA Tournament against an old foe

Kansas and Nebraska aren’t in the same conference anymore, but their women’s basketball teams are still very familiar with each other.

Last weekend, while recruiting in Wichita, KU coach Bonnie Henrickson looked down the sideline and saw Nebraska coach Connie Yori. Henrickson walked over to catch up with Yori; they discussed their seasons and Kansas’ chances of making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in more than a decade.

Two days later, Kansas was selected as the No. 11 seed in the Des Moines Regional. After the first wave of cheers at KU’s watch party in Lawrence died down, one player turned around and asked who the Jayhawks would play. No one had been watching after KU popped up on the screen for the first time since 2000.

That team was sixth-seeded Nebraska, which left the Big 12 for the Big Ten before this academic year. Tipoff for the first-round game is around 6:50 tonight.

The Jayhawks and Huskers split the series last season as each team picked up a victory on its home court. Kansas leads the series 49-31 overall, but the teams have gone 5-5 in the last two meetings.

“Both teams love to run,” Henrickson said. “If you look at points of emphasis and keys to the game, it will be who will defend better in transition.”

In the post, Kansas senior forward Aishah Sutherland will battle sophomore forward Jordan Hooper, who averages 19.2 points and 9.3 rebounds per game.

Both teams are driven by strong guard play, with junior guard Angel Goodrich at the point for Kansas and junior guard Lindsey Moore matching up for Nebraska. Goodrich and Moore are both finalists for the Nancy Lieberman Award, which honors the top women’s point guard in the nation.

“You look at Aishah and Angel, the role and the weight and the burden they have for our program,” Henrickson said. “That’s the same that Hooper and Moore have for their program.”

KU, 19-12, lost 78-63 in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals at Municipal Auditorium to defending national champion Texas A&M. Goodrich had 21 points and nine assists.

Nebraska, 24-8, is coming off a 74-70 double-overtime loss to Purdue in the Big Ten tournament title game. The Huskers had won three times in three days to get to the final, where they shot just four of 20 from three-point range. Hooper and Moore combined for 52 points.