Saturday, February 26, 2005

Women closing ‘Cat gap

KSU has dominated, but KU playing well


The Sunflower Showdown is good for creating streaks.

The Kansas University men's basketball squad hasn't lost to Kansas State since 1994.

And, if the current trend persists, Wildcat fans soon will be touting a similar streak of dominance in women's basketball.

The Jayhawks (12-13 overall, 5-9 Big 12 Conference) will travel today to Manhattan, hoping to end a seven-game losing streak against the Wildcats (19-6, 10-4). Tipoff is 5 p.m. at Bramlage Coliseum, with a live telecast on FSN (Sunflower Broadband Channel 36).

Unlike each meeting since Jan. 27, 2001, when K-State's dominant stretch began, KU especially is playing with confidence. The Jayhawks pushed No. 6-ranked Baylor before falling, 70-60, Wednesday night at Allen Fieldhouse.

"It helps, because even though we didn't win, there were things we take from this game," junior guard Erica Hallman said after the Baylor loss. "We're going in confident, but we're going to have to play better than we did tonight to beat K-State."

Hallman has been powering the recent surge. She set a career high Sunday with 22 points in a 67-53 victory against Nebraska, then nearly one-upped herself with 21 against the Bears.

Another 20-plus performance would erase memories of Hallman's 3-of-12 night from the floor in KU's 63-45 home loss to K-State on Jan. 8.

In addition to having extra confidence from a near upset of Baylor, the Jayhawks hung with the Wildcats in their previous meeting.

Well, for 28 minutes, at least.

"It was pretty close at the half," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "And then in the second half they got a little separation and it ended up being a little uglier than it should have been."

It was as close as it could get, 26-26, at halftime. Then the Jayhawks fell apart in the second half, going just 7-for-25 from the field and 0-for-5 from three-point range.

Kansas recently has proven it has no problem finishing games strong, but the Jayhawks want to come out strong against a Kansas State team that typically goes early for the jugular.

The Wildcats also will have emotion on their side, as it is the final home game for their standout senior duo -- guard Laurie Koehn and forward Kendra Wecker.

"We've got to be prepared to come out of the gates strong, because they're a team at home that likes to jump on people early and make it ugly early," Henrickson said. "They did it to Iowa State, they did it to Nebraska, and we've got to make sure we don't allow that to happen and be solid right off the bat, like we were here."

Tipoff: 5 p.m. todayWhere: Bramlage Coliseum, ManhattanTV: FSN (Sunflower Broadband Channel 36)PROBABLE STARTERSKansas (12-13, 5-9 Big 12)F -- Taylor McIntosh, 5-11, Fr. (5.0 ppg)F -- Crystal Kemp, 6-2, Jr. (13.7 ppg)G -- Kaylee Brown, 5-8, Jr. (9.2 ppg)G -- Aquanita Burras, 5-9, Sr. (10.3 ppg)G -- Erica Hallman, 5-8, Jr. (13.1 ppg)Kansas State (19-6, 10-4)F -- Shana Wheeler, 6-2, Fr. (4.6 ppg)F -- Megan Mahoney, 6-0, Sr. (9.7 ppg)F -- Kendra Wecker, 5-11, Sr. (20.8 ppg)G -- Laurie Koehn, 5-8, Sr. (12.3 ppg)G -- Claire Coggins, 5-11, So. (9.9 ppg)

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