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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Whistle-stop win: KU women cruise past Eagles in foul-fest

Kansas' Chelsea Gardner is harassed by Oral Roberts' Tysia Manuel (13) as she tries to get a shot off during their game Sunday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks won their season opener, 84-62.

Kansas' Chelsea Gardner is harassed by Oral Roberts' Tysia Manuel (13) as she tries to get a shot off during their game Sunday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks won their season opener, 84-62.

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It was a joke and the truth, all at the same time.

Before starting her postgame news conference, Kansas University coach Bonnie Henrickson turned to reporters and said what most of them were already thinking: “You guys like that free-throw contest?”

The KU women certainly won’t complain, not after an 84-62 victory over Oral Roberts on Sunday that included a school-record 54 free-throw attempts and 41 free throws made.

Still, it was the second basketball opener in three days at Allen Fieldhouse that had its flow sucked away by an officiating crew’s fixation on the new hand-check rules passed down by the NCAA.

On Friday, the KU men’s basketball team combined with Louisiana at Monroe for 58 fouls and 72 free throws in an 80-63 Jayhawks’ victory. The numbers were nearly identical for the KU women Sunday, as they combined with ORU for 58 fouls and 81 free throws.

Though the Jayhawks smashed the previous free-throw records, Henrickson actually believed her team had more opportunity to draw fouls.

“It surprised me that the number’s that high,” Henrickson said, “because I didn’t think we drove it as soon in the game as I thought we needed to.”

KU’s 54 free-throw attempts were the most in school history, with the previous record of 50 set in 2000 against Mississippi Valley State. ORU, meanwhile, had never allowed more than 46 free throws to an opponent before Sunday’s whistle-fest.

The Jayhawks’ 41 free throws made also easily beat the previous best of 34 made against Penn State on March 19, 1994. ORU had never allowed more than 35 in its history, while KU’s season high last season for free throws made was 23.

“I think we can be a lot more aggressive, but I think we started to be more aggressive down the stretch,” KU guard Natalie Knight said. “That’s what got us those free throws.”

The Jayhawks (1-0) actually took control of the game during a relatively foul-shot-free period after intermission.

KU forward Chelsea Gardner scored 12 of KU’s points in a half-opening 19-5 run that turned a 10-point lead into a 50-26 advantage. The biggest difference was her team’s willingness to find her, as the junior had five layups during the seven-minute stretch, four of those coming off assists.

“We ran a couple of sets for her, but we always know that if we get her the ball, we’re going to get easy points and easy shots,” Knight said. “That’s always key for us.”

Gardner led KU with 24 points on 7-for-10 shooting with 13 rebounds in 27 minutes. Many of her points came from lobs over the top, since ORU unsuccessfully tried to front her in the post.

“You’ve got to give credit to Chelsea for getting open,” Knight said.

KU was able to pull away after a sloppy first half from both teams.

The Jayhawks led 31-21 at the break despite making just six first-half field goals (6-for-20) with 14 turnovers. The free-throw line saved KU. Kansas made 19 of 26 freebies before the half.

Knight was the steadying force for KU in her first regular-season game since suffering a knee injury on Jan. 30. The junior guard scored 12 points on 4-for-8 shooting with seven assists, three steals and just one turnover.

“She’s had the best week of practice,” Henrickson said, “and separated herself quite a bit this week.”

Asia Boyd added career-highs in points (17) and steals (three) while also tying her career-best in rebounds (10).

KU will play host to SIU-Edwardsville at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Comments

Damian Glaze 11 months, 2 weeks ago

The rule has to be repealed or the enforcement of the rule needs to be relaxed. This is not good for the game and it will drive people from attending (particularly weekday games) when you know a game is now going to last two and a half to three hours.

Congratulations on the win ladies and keep working on aggressiveness. With this rule, the aggressive teams will have the advantage.

Erich Hartmann 11 months, 2 weeks ago

Watched this game on TV. KU clearly more athletic, rehearsed, and the ladies really displayed good FT shooting form (as opposed to the ORU girls...ugh.) Agree with Damian above: the new rules are spoiling the game of basketball. On another note, I watched the 2012 men's Tournament game vs. Purdue, and that was one hell of a game, with Purdue doing all they could to triple-team Thomas Robinson...and there were very few "bailout" calls--> REFRESHING to see better games, eventhough KU almost lost that game if it werent for Elijah...

On a side note, I like Bonnie's glamour hairdo...a nice counter to the fact we know she is a tough, fundamentals type of coach. RCJH.

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