At no point this season have Kansas University women’s basketball players and coaches felt any lower than they did following their home loss to in-state rival Kansas State nine days ago. In a season full of self-inflicted setbacks, this one carried some shame with it, because the Jayhawks fell behind 21-0.
That same confounding start might actually have an upside, though, because KU gets a rematch with the Wildcats at 6 tonight in Oklahoma City, site of the Big 12 Tournament. Coach Bonnie Henrickson thinks her No. 8-seeded Jayhawks got a good draw in the No. 9 seed Wildcats.
“(It’s) another shot at ’em and a chance to make up for a game that we got off to such a poor start,” she said. “Plus, it’s a great opportunity for us to play another rivalry game in the tournament.”
Kansas (12-18) actually won on K-State’s home floor, 71-64, on Jan. 25, before losing eight of the next 10 games to end the regular season. Henrickson thinks the third meeting between the rival programs provides a unique opportunity.
“It’s two-fold, first of all, just the rivalry, and it’s the rubber match for this season after we both won on each other’s floors,” the coach said. “And then just the magnitude of the tournament. Somebody’s going home.”
The Wildcats (11-18) dropped four of their last five regular-season games, picking up their lone win at Kansas. With both teams skidding into the postseason, neither side has much momentum.
“The only positive thing is we played so poorly against K-State that it was nice to see we got off to a better start in the next two games,” Henrickson said.
Junior forward Chelsea Gardner leads KU with 16.6 points, 8.5 rebounds and 1.9 blocks a game this season.
K-State freshman guard Leticia Romero leads the Wildcats with 14.2 points, 5.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists.
The winner of Part 3 of the Sunflower Showdown moves on to face Baylor at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
All-Big 12: Gardner was named to the All-Big 12 first team, and fellow junior Natalie Knight earned honorable mention, the conference announced Thursday.
It was Gardner’s first league first-team recognition and first honorable mention for Knight.
HOF Challenge: KU will participate in the Hall of Fame Women’s Challenge next year, the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame announced Thursday.
KU will host six games in Allen Fieldhouse form Nov. 21-23, featuring Alabama, Temple and Georgetown. Notre Dame will host Harvard, Quinnipiac and Holy Cross for six games Nov. 23-25.
On Nov. 30, Kansas will face Notre Dame in Uncasville, Conn., to conclude the HOF tournament, proceeds of which benefit the Hall of Fame.
For more information, visit www.hoophall.com/womenschallenge.
Kansas (12-18 overall, 5-13 Big 12)
G — Cece Harper, 5-8, sr.
G — Natalie Knight, 5-7, jr.
G — Dakota Gonzalez, 6-0, fr.
G/F — Asia Boyd, 6-1, jr.
F — Chelsea Gardner, 6-3, jr.
Kansas State (11-18, 5-13)
G — Leticia Romero, 5-8, fr.
G — Ashia Woods, 5-11, jr.
G — Kindred Wesemann, 5-8, fr.
F — Katya Leick, 6-1, sr.
F — Breanna Lewis, 6-5, fr.