Lost: One basketball game. Found: Two basketball players.
Career performances by freshmen LaChelda Jacobs and Kelly Kohn went to waste as South Dakota State outlasted Kansas University, 53-48, in women's basketball Wednesday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
"I wouldn't be afraid to walk into a dark alley with these two," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said, pointing to Jacobs and Kohn. "These two fought and battled."
Jacobs, a 5-foot-10 wing player from Mansfield, Texas, came off the bench for 17 points and five steals, while Kohn, a 5-9 point guard, had 16 points and four steals.
Thanks mainly to the energy provided by Jacobs and Kohn, the Jayhawks were able to battle back from a 20-point halftime deficit and forge a 45-all tie with a little less than three minutes remaining.
But the Jackrabbits, who had squandered a 37-17 bulge at the break, were able to hit five of six bonus free throws the rest of the way to salvage a road victory.
"This game just shows you what a momentum sport basketball is," South Dakota State coach Aaron Johnston said. "In the second half, we had as many turnovers as points, and a lot of that was due to Kansas."
The Jackrabbits (6-2) had 16 points and 16 turnovers after intermission. Of their 29 total turnovers, nearly half (14) were steals, and nine of those were by Kohn and Jacobs.
"Those two allowed us to nearly get it done," Henrickson said.
Kansas (4-3) came into these one on the heels of a 68-41 loss at Wisconsin, and the Jayhawks appeared to be suffering from a carryover funk. In the first half, they shot miserably (6-of-23 for 26 percent) while allowing the 'Rabbits to shoot 57 percent (16 of 28).
But a different KU team showed up for the second 20 minutes.
"We were trying to keep from getting embarrassed at home, so I challenged them to get up and guard somebody," Henrickson said.
South Dakota State turned the ball over on five of its first seven second-half possessions, and the Jayhawks were back in the hunt, slicing the lead to 12, then eight, then five. KU finally knotted the count at 45 with 2:53 remaining on a three-pointer by Kohn.
"We needed to come out with pride," Kohn said. "When you're down by 20, you can't do much but fight. Having a first half like that is shocking and embarrassing."
Kohn scored all but two of her 16 points in the second half. Jacobs provided nearly half of KU's scoring output with eight points in the first half, then she collected nine more after the break.
Plagued by fouls in the Jayhawks' first six games, Jacobs was able to stay on the floor for 33 minutes and could have earned her first start with No. 16-ranked California comes to town on Sunday afternoon.
"You've just got to be ready when coach calls," Jacobs said. "I've been ready in the past, and I hope to be ready in the future."
While Kohn and Jacobs combined for 33 points, their teammates collected 15 combined. Marija Zinic was the third-highest scorer with six points. Zinic's scoring average dipped to 9.7 and left the Jayhawks without a single player with a double-figure scoring average.
Kohn boosted her points-per-game average to 8.6, while Jacobs climbed to 8.0.
South Dakota State, now in its third year in NCAA Div. I, will join the Mid-Continent Conference next season.
"They're legit, they're good," Henrickson said. "(Johnston) has good players."