Kansas’ NCAA Tournament hopes are quickly disappearing.
By Brennan Keller
Last season, The Kansas Jayhawks were able to leave Norman, Okla. with a stunning 83-77 victory against a tough Oklahoma Sooner team. With the win, Kansas was able to boost their résumé in hopes of earning an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Jayhawks went on to make a run in the Sweet Sixteen later that March. A year later, head coach Bonnie Henrickson and her Jayhawks found themselves in a very similar position.
After dropping four of their last six conference games, the trip down to the University of Oklahoma was perhaps the most important game of the season for the Jayhawks. For the past couple of weeks, Henrickson has been unimpressed with the defensive intensity her veteran team has been bringing to the floor (with the exception of senior Angel Goodrich). Heading into the game against the Sooners, the Jayhawks’ defense allowed their opponents to score an average of 83 points per game in the last three outings. That is an alarming statistic for any team trying to end the season on a winning streak. With their recent defensive woes in mind and an opportunity to make a late season push to earn an invite to the 2013 NCAA Tournament, the Jayhawks headed to Norman hoping to take one step closer to accomplishing their postseason goals.
Early on in the game, Kansas seemed to have all the momentum and energy. Following a three point basket by senior Angel Goodrich, Kansas found themselves holding a 35-29 lead late in the first half. Unfortunately, the Jayhawks could not come up with any defensive stops to end the half and the Sooners ended the first half on a 10-0 run. Coming out of halftime, Goodrich helped pull Kansas to within striking distance, but Oklahoma countered with multiple runs of their own which eventually led them to a gritty 85-77 victory. During the post-game press conference, Henrickson did not try to hide her frustrations about the loss. An upset Henrickson stated, “We are breaking down. … It’s not our offense, it’s our defense, our constant breakdowns in positional defense and one-on-one defense.” Seniors Carolyn Davis and Angel Goodrich combined to score 33 points on the night. Despite a strong effort from these two talented seniors, the Jayhawks are now on the verge of missing this year’s NCAA Tournament and ending the season in disappointing fashion. With the latest loss, the Jayhawks cannot finish any higher than seventh place in the Big 12.
Note: Kansas will host TCU for their final home game of the season on “Senior Night” Tuesday, March 5th. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. The game will be televised locally by Metro Sports.