Originally published December 2, 2012 at 04:19p.m., updated December 2, 2012 at 05:49p.m.
When Bonnie Henrickson sends a sub to the scorer's table, Henrickson, Kansas University women's basketball coach, wants the back-up thinking about how she can impact the game the moment she steps foot on the floor.
"What happens in the game when I sub in?" Henrickson said of a bench player's proper mind-set. "It doesn't always have to be (points). It's, 'Can I drive and kick it to somebody who can make a shot?'"
The Jayhawks' substitutes provided all of the above and more Sunday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse as KU beat a pesky Minnesota team, 65-53.
Foul trouble plagued the Jayhawks' top two players — seniors Carolyn Davis and Angel Goodrich — but Chelsea Gardner, CeCe Harper and Asia Boyd scored 16 of their 21 bench points in the second half.
With Goodrich (four fouls) limited to 21 minutes and Davis picking up her third foul less than two minutes into the second half, No. 20 KU (7-0) not only survived without its stars but found a way to thrive with sophomore forward Gardner scoring 12 of her 14 points in the final 20 minutes.
"I couldn't have been more pleased with how big those guys were off the bench," Henrickson said, adding that Kansas has come a long way in just a couple of weeks from a depth standpoint.
Gardner exploded after Davis (20 points in 24 minutes) picked up her second and third fouls on one defensive possession. Gardner, a 6-foot-3 sophomore forward from De Soto, Texas, scored 12 of the Jayhawks' 14 points in a 10-minute stretch, showing off her jump-hook, offensive rebounding, range out to 15 feet and ability to run the floor and score in transition.
Gardner said her confidence has grown since her 26-point output against Grambling State four days earlier.
"Before the Grambling game, I was struggling," she said. "And now I feel that I'm doing good and being aggressive."
Harper had four points, six rebounds, five steals and three assists in a season-high 29 minutes against Minnesota (6-3).
"I knew Angel was in foul trouble, so I just wanted to come in and pick the pace up, whether it was defensively or offensively," she said.
The first half proved more difficult than the second for KU, which entered the break tied at 30 with the Golden Gophers. But even when Goodrich picked up her second foul 12 minutes into the game, leading Henrickson to keep her star point guard on the bench the remainder of the first half, Kansas stayed assertive.
Davis scored nine straight KU points from the 7:42 mark to 4:51, and the Jayhawks led 28-26. While Davis fought in the paint for great position, Harper and Monica Engelman made sure to get her the ball. Each fed two assists to KU's go-to senior in the post, allowing Davis easy, point-blank shots.
The Jayhawks had a miserable start to open the game, which began with a shot-clock violation. The next time down the floor, Goodrich searched for a driving lane and was called for traveling with the clock winding down. When Engelman threw an outlet pass out of bounds following a defensive rebound, KU had turned the ball over three times before even taking a shot. The Gophers' length, speed and defensive activity left Kansas looking confused, if not overmatched.
Knight found Goodrich for a wide-open three-pointer at the top of the key, and KU finally scored at the 17:16 mark, trailing 6-3.
When Goodrich stole the ball and made a no-look pass to Knight in transition for a layup less than two minutes later, Kansas started getting over its ugly start.
Engelman scored six unanswered points for KU in the next two and a half minutes — on a turn-around jumper, an offensive rebound and a layup. That gave the Jayhawks a 13-10 lead and proved they could match Minnesota's energy after the Gophers established the game's tone early.
Harper said earning a quality RPI win over a Big 10 opponent with Goodrich (nine points and six assists) and Davis in foul trouble was important.
"For the team, it gives us a lot of confidence to know that we can still come in and maintain a game," Harper, a junior guard, said.
The Jayhawks have their second road game of the season at 7 p.m. Thursday at Arkansas.