After studying Danielle McCray's three-point struggles lately, Kansas University women's basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson approached the freshman forward before Sunday's game and emphasized setting her feet before preparing to fire away.
"She told me that," McCray said. "And I was ready every time I caught it."
Heeding her coach's advice, McCray scored a career-high 25 points on 6-of-7 shooting behind the arc. Behind the freshman's performance and Shaquina Mosley's near triple-double, the Jayhawks defeated Kansas State, 82-74, in double-overtime Sunday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse.
The victory halted a 12-game losing streak to their Sunflower State rivals, which made for an ebullient postgame locker room.
"It was incredible," freshman Kelly Kohn said. "We've been feeling the whole streak and rivalry all week."
The rivalry game ebbed and flowed with nine ties and 13 lead changes. Kansas (9-17 overall, 3-10 Big 12 Conference) led, 58-56, with 17 seconds left in regulation when Kansas State freshman Ashley Sweat, the No. 2 option, scored on an inbound play. The forward posted a career- and team-high 20 points.
"She did a nice job on the catch and score," Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. "On a day when we struggled offensively, for a freshman to maintain that consistency is impressive.'"
It was KU's turn for late-game heroics during the first overtime. With the her team trailing 70-68, Mosley drove past two defenders to tie the game with five seconds left.
"There was a wide-open lane," Mosley said. "So I just took it in."
The senior filled the stat box with an all-around performance, notching 21 points, a career-high 14 rebounds, nine assists and three blocks - part of her impressive comeback year.
After a ballyhooed career at Central Arizona Community College, the KU faithful expected major contributions from her as a junior, but the guard scored only 2.9 points per game last year. Henrickson has met with her weekly to improve their communication, along with her shot selection and turnovers.
"Her and I have really worked," Henrickson said. "She's playing with a lot more confidence."
That self-assuredness extends to the 5-foot-6 guard's play on the glass.
"They think they can just elevate over me," she said. "People don't think I'm going to jump that high. They don't really worry about me going to the rim. "
Mosley and the rest of her team outrebounded Kansas State 50-39 overall and 25-13 in the first half.
"We were dominated obviously on the boards," Patterson said.
McCray, who struggled early in the season with her conditioning, contributed 10 of those boards in a commanding 47-minute performance. Sunday, McCray saved her best for last, scoring seven of the team's 12 points during the second overtime to power her team to victory.
"I'm really confident," McCray said. "That's what coach (Henrickson) says she likes about me."
The Olathe native called it her best game, and her baskets pierced the Wildcats like daggers. With less than six minutes left in the first half, her three-point shot gave KU a 20-19 lead and sparked a 10-0 run.
During the second overtime, a McCray three stretched the lead to 75-71 with 2:58 left, and a warm-up-the-buses-three gave KU a 81-71 lead with 57 seconds left.
Kohn also delivered momentum-changing threes, going 3-of-6 behind the arc en route to 16 points. That followed a miserable 0-for-8, scoreless performance during the last game, a 67-57 loss to Missouri.
Henrickson praised Kohn's resiliency and her aggressiveness driving to the goal.
"You like that she thinks the next one is going in," Henrickson said. "You can tell there's a freight train coming. No matter what, she's going to the rim."
The Jayhawks received one of their most balanced performances of the year. Taylor McIntosh chipped in 10 rebounds, and Sade Morris scored 13 in addition to the contributions from McCray, Mosley and Kohn.
On the other side, the Wildcats struggled from the floor expect for Sweat, Kimberly Dietz (17 points) and Claire Coggins (14 points).
"Three offensive players is not enough to win in this league," Patterson said.
The Wildcats (16-0, 4-9) clearly missed sophomore forward Marlies Gipson, who averaged 12.8 points and 8.3 rebounds before injuring her knee Jan. 17 at Nebraska. Kansas State fell to 2-8 in games without Gipson.
But the Jayhawks eradicated another statistic - a 12-game losing streak - with a climactic win.
"It's a great feeling to win - ever," Kohn said. "But to beat K-State at home feels great."