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Saturday, December 1, 2012

KU women benefit from balanced attack

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Kansas University women’s basketball coach Bonnie Henrickson certainly takes comfort in having as reliable a senior duo as forward Carolyn Davis and point guard Angel Goodrich at her disposal, but she didn’t mind watching other members of the team finish with higher point totals in the Jayhawks’ rout of Grambling State on Wednesday.

Henrickson didn’t have to play Davis (six points in 16 minutes) or Goodrich (seven points in 17 minutes) much against an inferior opponent, so other players stole the spotlight — specifically three sophomores. Forward Chelsea Gardner had her way, with a career-best 26 points and season-best 10 rebounds, forward Asia Boyd posted career highs with 15 points and 10 rebounds, and guard Natalie Knight went for 13 points, three assists and four steals.

In addition to that output, senior guard Monica Engelman and freshman guard Lamaria Cole each scored eight points, and junior forward Tania Jackson had seven.

No. 20 Kansas (6-0) needs to have plenty of scoring options, Henrickson said, to complement the two stars. Davis and Goodrich account for 27 of the Jayhawks’ 69.8 points a game heading into today’s meeting with Minnesota — 2 p.m. tipoff at Allen Fieldhouse.

“Those kids gotta be able to step up, make shots or make plays,” Henrickson said of the supporting cast. “Some guys who hadn’t been on the floor a lot, put it on the floor and made the extra pass (in a 101-47 win against Grambling State).”

The ninth-year KU coach said a lot of the role players needed that chance to get more game-time experience. Prior to Wednesday’s easy win, Henrickson told Boyd she hadn’t made a shot outside the paint yet. The 6-foot-1 Detroit product responded with her first three-pointer of the season and grabbed seven offensive rebounds, some on her own misses.

“I thought she was aggressive. I thought she tried to hunt the ball,” Henrickson said of Boyd. “She was padding her offensive rebound stats but killing her field-goal percentage there for a while.”

Knight’s play also drew praise from the coach, who said the sophomore from Olathe has shown the past two games that she can take over at the point if Goodrich needs a rest or gets in foul trouble. Henrickson said Knight can keep KU at its ideal pace and not allow a drop-off in offensive productivity.

Goodrich agreed: “She’s a great point guard. She can get in, she can drive, she can shoot. It’s really good to know that she’s there.”

In the previous three games, Knight is averaging 10.3 points and has made 12 of her 14 field goals (including three of five threes).

Minnesota (6-2) comes in averaging 72.1 points a game, but no KU opponent has reached 60 so far this season.

The Golden Gophers have defeated Washington State, Villanova, Ohio, Maine, James Madison and Missouri and lost to Richmond and Virginia.

KU has won 48 straight nonconference, regular-season home games and holds a 13-3 advantage over Minnesota in 16 meetings between the programs.

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