McCray Scores 29 in Win Over CU

Entering Wednesday night's showdown with Colorado at Allen Fieldhouse, Danielle McCray had scored just 13 points in her last two games on an ice-cold 5-of-23 field goal shooting and 0-of-9 from downtown.

The Kansas senior forward and All-American candidate eclipsed that point total with 15 in just under the first 15 minutes of action against the Buffaloes.

McCray kept on shooting and scored a game-high 29 points to lead KU to a 75-64 victory. Those were McCray's most points since scoring a career-high 37 against Houston on Dec. 22. The win broke the Jayhawks' two-game losing streak and gave KU just its second ‘W' in its last seven games.

Kansas (12-7, 2-4 Big 12) raced to a 47-27 halftime lead behind McCray's 19 points and a dominating 27-to-7 margin on the boards. KU retrieved 14 of its 17 missed shots and outscored CU 13 to one in second-chance points the first 20 minutes.

While Colorado rallied the final nine minutes to cut into KU's lead and get within 11 points three times in the last 3:11, it was too late to pull off a comeback victory.

KU coach Bonnie Henrickson was especially pleased with her team's rebounding effort, transition offense, how they shared the ball, and overall aggressiveness the first half.

"But we need to be a team that has to do that for 40 minutes," Henrickson said.

Colorado head coach Kathy McConnell-Miller praised her team's effort after halftime.

"We defended a little bit better and we came out with some more energy and passion," McConnell-Miller said. "We played Colorado basketball in the second half."

The Jayhawks, though, were better this night. Freshman forward/center Carolyn Davis tallied her first career double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Senior guard Sade Morris added 11 points and two steals, sophomore forward Aishah Sutherland scored nine points and grabbed seven boards, and freshman guard Monica Engelman was a spark off the bench with seven points on 3-of-4 shooting.

KU shot 48.4 percent from the field and an impressive 46.2 percent from beyond the arc, while limiting the Buffaloes to just 37.7 percent field goal shooting and outrebounding CU, 49 to 29.

Above all, this night belonged to McCray, who shot 11-of-25 from the field (her 25 field goal attempts tied her career high) and matched her career high with 16 boards, including eight offensive rebounds. McCray repeatedly crashed the glass on her own missed shots and kept attacking.

"I loved her play on the offensive glass," Henrickson said. "I think that toughness sends a statement. She set that tone on the boards for us. When your best player is doing that kind of work, then there is no excuse for anyone else. I thought that we followed suit and everyone played well."

After losing five of its last six games, this was a must-win game for Kansas.

"I told the seniors at shootaround today, ‘it's the biggest game in your career,'" Henrickson said. "'We got to get on a run and you can't get on a run if you're going to lose tonight.' ... That was the last message in the shootaround. I pointed to those seniors ... ‘you guys got to step up and play.'"

They got the message.

"I definitely think it was an important game to get our confidence back up and to try and get into the NCAA tournament," McCray said. "That's our goal right now. We're going to try and keep up a winning streak, and I thought tonight was a good start to that. We can't let it slip away from us."

KU next heads to Columbia Sunday for its Border Showdown battle with Missouri. The Jayhawks previously beat MU, 72-59, at Allen Fieldhouse on Jan. 17.

Kansas knows it will have to play a full 40 minutes to win again.

"Once we learn how to maintain our focus for the whole game," McCray said, "we'll be a great team."

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