LaChelda Jacobs came out of nowhere Sunday afternoon while Kelly Kohn almost disappeared.
Welcome to the freshman-filled world of Kansas University women's basketball.
Jacobs contributed 18 points and seven rebounds, both career highs, in only her second start as the Jayhawks bowed, 72-63, to Xavier in Allen Fieldhouse.
"She took balanced shots," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said of Jacobs, a 5-foot-10 yearling from Mansfield, Texas. "I always tell her that once she gets that down, she is going to be a special player."
Meanwhile, Kohn, who had posted a career-high 23 points in Friday night's loss to Northern Illinois, was way off. The 5-9 point guard - the only freshman who has started every game - banked in a pair of three-pointers in the first half, then went 0-for-8 from the field in the second half.
"Basketball players go through tough shooting nights," Kohn said. "You can't let that affect your game. LaChelda came in a did a great job. We just need more consistency."
Jacobs was an unexpected addition to the starting lineup.
"I was surprised a little bit," she said, "but I'd been working hard in practice. I guess starting gave me a momentum booster. I needed to do something to get out there."
Even more of a surprise was Henrickson' decision to give Porscha Weddington her first career start.
"Porscha has been really good in practice," said Henrickson of the 6-1 freshman from Temple, Texas, who responded with five points and five boards.
Weddington joined Kohn, Jacobs and Sade Morris to give Kansas a four-freshman starting lineup for the first time this season. Junior Taylor McIntosh was the other starter.
"It's not about youth, it's about who's going to produce," Henrickson said. "I need people who can practice and play and produce."
Henrickson mentioned before the season she could foresee a time when she would have as many as four freshmen starting, so perhaps the only surprise was that one of them wasn't Danielle McCray, the Olathe East product who was generally regarded as the centerpiece of KU's seven-member recruiting class.
"If Danielle McCray can play in practice and produce, she'll be in there," Henrickson said. "But she has to work harder. She can't continue to be last in sprints."
McCray came off the bench Sunday and scored nine points in 18 minutes.
After falling behind by as many as 12 points early in the second half, the Jayhawks surged within a point (59-58) with about 3 1/2 minutes remaining. But a turnover here and a missed shot there forced the Jayhawks to foul, and Xavier (9-4) drilled 11 of 12 free throws in the last 2 1/2 minutes.
"It's not that we didn't compete, and it's not that we didn't play well," Henrickson said. "It is just tiny things, not major issues for us. Right now, we're two or three game-changing momentum plays away."
After winning four of their first five games, the Jayhawks (5-7) have dropped six of their last seven and will open Big 12 Conference play Wednesday at Iowa State.
¢ Senior guard Shaq Mosley, who had 10 points and a team-high six assists, had to be helped to the locker room after crashing to the floor with 44 seconds remaining. Henrickson said Mosley fell on her right hip, but that the injury didn't appear to be serious.
¢ Xavier freshman standout Amber Harris was right on her season averages with 16 points, nine rebounds and six blocked shots.
¢ Kansas shot only 30 percent (9 of 30) in the first half, but finished at 36.5 percent. KU went in shooting 39.7 percent, the worst field-goal percentage in the Big 12.
¢ In the last two games, KU foes have made 50 free throws in 60 attempts. Northern Illinois was 25-of-31 at the stripe; Xavier was 25-of-29.
¢ Two of KU starters against NIU - Jamie Boyd and Ivana Catic - didn't play at all Sunday, even though both were suited.