KU Women Fall to Nebraska, 67-60

The Kansas women's basketball team put on a shooting show to open the second half against No. 3 Nebraska at Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday night, hitting their first 11 shots as the Jayhawks rallied from a 30-20 halftime deficit to take a 45-41 lead while a juiced Allen Fieldhouse grew louder with each basket.

Despite ripping the nets for 69.2 percent field-goal shooting the second half, KU couldn't shoot its way to a victory, falling 67-60 to the undefeated Huskers (22-0, 9-0 Big 12). Kansas dropped to 14-8 and 4-5 in conference play.

With a game that saw six ties and 10 lead changes in front of a majority of crimson and blue fans mixed with a strong contingent of red-clad Huskers' boosters, this had the feel of an NCAA tournament game.

Unfortunately for Kansas, the Jayhawks didn't make plays late after taking a 53-48 lead with 8:11 left in the game.

"It's a missed opportunity," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "That's gut-wrenching."

Kansas certainly had its chances with a five-point lead, but two costly turnovers led to Nebraska points as the Huskers tied the game at 53. The score would be tied once more at 55 before NU senior guard Yvonne Turner hit a three-pointer and senior forward Kelsey Griffin scored a layup. KU answered with a jump shot by sophomore forward Aishah Sutherland to cut the lead to three (60-57 with 4:03 remaining) before more trouble started.

The Jayhawks came up empty with three consecutive turnovers (two by senior guard Sade Morris). After a free throw by NU freshman guard Lindsey Moore, Nebraska retrieved the offensive rebound and Turner nailed another three-pointer — the biggest shot of the game — to give the Huskers a commanding 64-57 lead with 1:12 remaining.

The Huskers held on as the Nebraska fans chanted: "Go Big Red, Go Big Red," in the final seconds.

KU freshman forward Carolyn Davis led four Jayhawks in double figures with 17 points and 11 rebounds, her second straight double-double and third in the last four games. Freshman guard Monica Engelman scored 13, but fouled out late and was just 1-of-6 from downtown. Morris added 10 points and five assists, but committed seven turnovers, while Sutherland scored 12 points on a perfect 6-of-6 from the field.

Griffin, an All-American candidate, led Nebraska with 17 points and 13 boards.

KU went toe-to-toe with the high-powered Huskers the first 12 minutes of the game, and was up 13-12 with 11:40 remaining before halftime. The Jayhawks had a golden opportunity to make a run when Griffin went to the bench with two fouls at the 8:51 mark. However, Kansas missed nine of its final 10 shots before halftime and committed eight turnovers in the last 10:27.

At halftime, Henrickson woke her team up with an inspiring speech.

"'You're either dead or dying,'" Henrickson said. "'If you're dying, you've at least got breath. You've got to fight and be aggressive. You can't expect to be in a game of this magnitude and wonder what you could've done better. You need to just lay it out and play aggressive.'"

KU did just that until the latter part of the game, when NU's full-court pressure defense seemed to finally take its toll with costly turnovers by the Jayhawks.

Kansas was also undone by a 20-7 Nebraska advantage on the offensive glass.

"We did not shoot the ball well (33.9 percent), said NU head coach Connie Yori, "but we sure went after it when we missed it."

Yori was thrilled with the victory.

"That is a great win for our team," Yori said. "I'm really excited about the way we won the game. We haven't really had to win that way before. We haven't really had to come back late on the road and find a way to win the game. I'm excited for our players because they found a way to win against a team that made almost every shot in the second half."

Despite KU's loss, it was an inspired effort by the Jayhawks, who played their second straight game without star forward Danielle McCray, who is out for the season with an ACL injury.

"My heart goes out to Danielle McCray," Griffin said.

KU feels confident heading into its next game Saturday against Texas (17-6, 6-3 Big 12) at Allen Fieldhouse.

"We have a lot of confidence in ourselves knowing that we can stick with Nebraska," Davis said. "We know that we can definitely beat Texas if we just play the way that we can play."

Henrickson, though, wants more toughness against the Longhorns.

"The message in the locker room is you got to believe you're talented enough, now you got to find some toughness," Henrickson said. "We've got to be able to do that to get a win on Saturday."


*New Kansas football coach Turner Gill sat courtside during the game next to athletic director Lew Perkins and KU officials. Gill was a former star quarterback at NU and a longtime assistant coach for the Huskers.

*Freshman forward Annette Davis saw her first action (two rebounds in five minutes) since the Pepperdine game on Dec. 30

*Attendance was 3,156.

*KU shot just 1-of-8 from three-point range. NU, meanwhile, was 4-of-17 from downtown for 23.5 percent.

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