Columbia, Mo. Another game, another tough-to-stomach loss for Kansas University's crumbling women's basketball team.
"We thought we had it," KU's Crystal Kemp said, "so it was frustrating to lose like this."
A horrid late three-minute sinking spell enabled Missouri to stop the Jayhawks, 64-57, on Saturday afternoon in Mizzou Arena.
Kansas was more or less in control of this one for the first 341/2 minutes, leading 30-25 at halftime and opening leads of as many as six points early in the second half.
KU led 49-48 with a little less than six minutes remaining. Several seconds later, MU's Christelle N'Garsanet wheeled for a basket underneath that gave the Tigers their first lead since early in the first half.
Worse, that basket triggered a 10-0 run by the Tigers that featured five turnovers by the Jayhawks on seven trips down the floor.
"It was our lack of focus," Kemp said, "and inability to get a stop."
With about three minutes remaining, Missouri led by nine (58-49), and yet the Jayhawks weren't dead. Thanks to a deep three-pointer and a conventional three-point play from Erica Hallman, Missouri was nursing a 60-57 lead with :31.6 remaining, and Kansas had the ball.
KU coach Bonnie Henrickson called time and opted not to attempt a three-pointer and forge a tie.
"We wanted a quick two because we would have two or three possessions left," Henrickson said. "We still had a shot at it, but we sent the wrong person to the free-throw line."
Henrickson was referring to MU senior guard LaToya Bond, who finished with 31 points -- the most the Jayhawks have surrendered to an opposing player this season.
"She's a great player," said Hallman, who led KU with 19 points. "But we screwed up on a few switches trying to cover her."
Bond was 10-of-14 from the field, including 3-of-3 from the three-point line. The 5-foot-7 senior also made eight of 10 free throws.
But Bond's biggest play was her third steal.
Following that KU timeout with :31.6 remaining, Hallman drove for the basket.
"If I was open, I would have shot a three," Hallman said, "but the plan was to go to the rim and try to get a shot or get it off to another player."
Hallman wasn't open deep, so she drove and horsed up a semi-runner that bounced off the backboard.
Teammate Taylor McIntosh snatched the carom, however, and tossed the ball back to Kaylee Brown on the perimeter. Brown caught the pass, but then had it stripped by Bond, who was fouled with :13.3 showing.
Bond iced it for the Tigers (17-6 overall, 7-4 Big 12 Conference) with two charities. Kansas (14-8 overall, 3-8 Big 12) bowed for the eighth time in its last 10 outings.
"A loss is a loss," Hallman said, "but a loss to Missouri seems worse."
Saturday marked the second time in six road games that Henrickson had the Jayhawks decked out in crimson uniforms. The other instance was at Kansas State a few weeks ago, and, curiously, the scenario was similar.
In Manhattan, the Jayhawks were competitive until late, eventually falling, 69-63, in Bramlage Coliseum.
Henrickson made two changes in the starting lineup, subbing Sophronia Sallard and Jamie Boyd for McIntosh and Ivana Catic, but Sallard and Boyd spent more time on the bench than on the floor.
McIntosh and Catic, in fact, logged 31 and 30 minutes respectively. The two combined for 10 points (eight for Catic, two for McIntosh) and were the only Jayhawks other than Kemp, Hallman and Brown who scored.
Kansas will attempt to salvage what's left of the season Wednesday when Nebraska comes to Allen Fieldhouse.
"As strange as it sounds," Henrickson said, "I think we can build momentum off this game. We can build confidence from the way we played for 34 minutes."