Senior Night Sadness For KU Women

Not even Senior Night could stop the Jayhawks' two-week swoon.

Kansas fell to No. 14 Texas A&M, 78-54, Saturday night in Allen Fieldhouse, extending its losing streak to five games in the final home contest for seniors Sade Morris, LaChelda Jacobs, Porscha Weddington, Kelly Kohn and Danielle McCray.

The Jayhawks dropped to 15-14 while closing the Big 12 regular season at 5-11. Kansas has now lost seven straight games to the Aggies dating back to 2004.

In what's become a familiar story, the Jayhawks were doomed by turnovers. Kansas coughed up the ball 20 times in the first half and season-high 30 for the game. KU, though, stayed with the Aggies for the first 15-plus minutes (Kansas was down just 29-24 at the 4:49 mark) before A&M took advantage of seven turnovers  to close the half on a 12-4 run.

KU actually out-shot the Aggies 52.4 percent to 38.2 percent the first half, yet A&M scored 19 points off turnovers to KU's five and made 14 of 16 free throws, compared to 5 of 6 for Kansas.

The Jayhawks never challenged the Aggies in the second half. A&M's biggest lead was 27 as it cruised to the victory.

KU coach Bonnie Henrickson was not pleased with her team's effort.

"(It) was bad," Henrickson said. "We've got to play tougher, we've got to get more loose balls, we've got to get better on the glass. ... We've got to get back to focus and concentrating and executing a game plan and play a little bit harder.

"... Right now don't have a lot of resiliency and I don't understand why. We've been through a lot (with injuries), but you got to keep fighting. You got to play tougher and stronger."

Henrickson could only kneel down and cover her eyes after Jacobs committed KU's 27th turnover on the night with over seven minutes remaining.

It was that kind of night.

Henrickson was extremely troubled by the Jayhawks' 20 first-half turnovers.

"We didn't screen worth a darn, we didn't get separation, they made us turn it over and we didn't recover," Henrickson said. "We just had really bad offensive execution. We lacked discipline, we didn't handle one-on-one pressure at the point very well and we made them shoot layups to beat us. We've got to get them in a half-court offense to give ourselves a chance and we don't do that."

Jacobs and freshman guard Monica Engelman each had seven turnovers, while Morris had five.

Sophomore forward Aishah Sutherland led KU with 13 points and four rebounds. Morris chipped in 12 points, while Jacbos and junior center Krysten Boogaard had nine points each. Boogaard started in place of freshman center Carolyn Davis, who suffered a concussion in practice on Friday. Henrickson said she is "cautiously optimistic" that Davis will be ready when KU kicks off the Big 12 Tournament on Thursday in Kansas City.

While it was another heartbreaking and lopsided loss (KU has lost its last three games by an average of 24 points), the seniors were honored and celebrated after the game. Each walked out with their parents and family members, as they were presented with a framed jersey and pictures while cheerleaders threw carnations on the court.

Despite KU's struggles, Henrickson is very  proud of her senior class.

"They have touched the hearts of many and will be missed by all," Henrickson said. "You're talking about five kids who took a chance on us trying to rebuild the program. They chose to come here to try to be difference makers. That's not easy when you're young. For their families to support that decision, it's not easy either."

The KU head coach was disappointed their regular season ended so badly.

"For that senior class, it should have been different this year," Henrickson said. "They deserved better than what we ended up with. I'm proud of them; I'm just disappointed for them. They've worked hard to earn a chance to have a better year than we've had."

McCray, who suffered a season-ending ACL knee injury in early February (she had surgery two weeks ago), knows how she wants this class to be remembered.

"As loyal and respectful," McCray said. "We came to this program to help turn it around and I think for the most part we have."

Last year, Kansas advanced to the WNIT championship game and won the most games (22) since 1999. This March, KU will have to win the Big 12 Tournament to earn an NCAA berth. The Jayhawks will march into the postseason tourney in KC with a clean slate.

"Every new game," Jacobs said, "you have an opportunity to get it right."

Notes:

*McCray said after the game that she plans on going overseas in August and play professionally when she is physically cleared after her rehabbing. Then she will start her WNBA career the following summer. McCray is projected as a second-round pick in the upcoming WNBA Draft on April 8.

*Weddington will graduate this summer, while the four other seniors will graduate in May. Kohn would like to pursue a career in sports broadcasting; Weddington plans on attending graduate school at KU next fall in sports administration; Morris wants to pursue professional basketball in the WNBA or overseas; and Jacobs aspires to be an elementary teacher.

*Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair is a big fan of KU and the great Jayhawk tradition. He said if A&M doesn't win the national championship, he hopes the Jayhawks do. The personable Blair even gave KU a great recruiting pitch.

"This is where you want to play ball," Blair said of Allen Fieldhouse. "I love this place."

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