When two defensive-minded teams square up face-to-face, you’re bound to get a physical, low-scoring matchup. On Sunday afternoon, that’s the matchup provided as Kansas women’s basketball made the two-hour trip down to Wichita State, defeated the host Shockers, 76-56, and earned its first road win of the season.
Leading 7-6 in the first, Kansas used three-pointers from super-senior guard Holly Kersgeiter and super-senior guard Zakiyah Franklin to take a 13-6 lead. Wichita State countered with a quick 5-0 run of its own to cut the Kansas lead to two, 13-11.
After the Shockers tied the game at 14 following an and-one from redshirt sophomore forward Jayla Murray, the Jayhawks got an and-one of their own from freshman S’mya Nichols, as Kansas took a 17-14 lead into the second quarter.
Wichita State would get the opening basket of the second quarter to cut the Kansas lead to two, however, Kansas would use a 7-0 run sparked by four points from junior guard Skylar Gill to extend its lead to seven, 24-17.
The Jayhawks pushed their lead out to nine, 28-19, following a layup from freshman guard S’mya Nichols, however, the Shockers were able to find their rhythm, using an 8-2 run to pull within three, 30-27.
Following the Wichita State run, Kansas found its rhythm on the defensive end, forcing two turnovers in the last 55 seconds of the second quarter to go on a quick 5-0 run to end the first half, leading 35-27.
The Jayhawks came out of the locker room firing on all cylinders, forcing four turnovers in the first five minutes of the second half. The Jayhawks turned their defense into offense, going on a 16-2 run to take a 51-29 lead.
Wichita State cut the Kansas lead to 18 with 2:29 to play in the third, as the rest of the quarter was a stalemate between the two teams, with Kansas taking the lead into the fourth, 56-38.
Kansas’ offense continued to stall to begin the fourth quarter until 7:46 remaining in the period when Nichols was able to roll home a tough and-one. With some offensive momentum on its slide, Kansas got a three-pointer from super-senior guard Holly Kersgieter and another finger roll from Nichols to keep the lead at 18, 63-45.
The Shockers offense found some late momentum, as they could go on an 11-2 run sparked by two three-pointers from senior guard Aniya Bell to cut the Jayhawk lead to nine, 65-56 with 4:05 remaining.
The Jayhawks held off the late Shocker comeback by going on a 12-0 run in the last four minutes to defeat their in-state rival, 76-56.
Kansas was led by Nichols who finished with 23 points on 10-12 shooting, and Taiyanna Jackson who recorded her fourth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds, along with a season-high six blocks. Kansas also got key performances from Franklin and senior guard Wyvette Mayberry who ended with 14 points, respectively.
As a team, the Jayhawks shot 59% from the field, and an efficient 47% from beyond the arc. The Jayhawks were out-rebounded by the Shockers, 37-27, and turned the ball over 19 times, but scored 20 points off of 18 Shocker turnovers.
With the win, Kansas improves its record to 5-4, and will now return home, as they will take on the Central Arkansas Sugar Bears on Saturday, December 16th. Tip-off is set for 4:00 p.m. inside Allen Fieldhouse and will be streamed on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.