Wednesday, December 6, 2017
The "four" on the box score jumped out to Brandon Schneider.
Following KU's 66-49 loss to Nebraska, the team's first defeat of the season, the KU coach sat at a table in the Allen Fieldhouse media room for the post-game press conference. Wearing a grimace that often matched his on-court demeanor on Wednesday, Schneider began his opening statement by highlighting the number that left him and the Jayhawks frustrated.
"Boy, I don't know (that) I've ever been part of a game where a team only made four field goals in the second half," Schneider said.
Sure enough, the Jayhawks (7-1) were held to just 13 points in the second half, with nine of them coming in the third quarter.
The team's rebounding helped keep it afloat early in the half — KU tabbed seven of its 17 offensive rebounds in the third quarter, leading to seven more field goal attempts than Nebraska in the period. But by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, KU was just about out of juice.
KU shot 0 for 14 in the fourth quarter, missing all six of its 3-point attempts. KU's last made field goal was a layup by Bri Osorio with 55 seconds to play in the third period. Osorio, who didn't practice the last two days because of an unspecified injury, scored only two points on the evening.
"Credit Nebraska for playing good defense," Schneider said, "I thought we helped them by playing really frustrated on the offensive end."
That frustration, Schneider noted, was what in turn frustrated him the most.
KU led deep into the third quarter and was even tied with its opponent in the fourth. But as things continued to go in the other direction, Schneider noticed a bit of a trend.
"I thought we got our chin down a little bit and played defeated before we were defeated," Schneider said. "That's a mindset and an attitude that we have to make improvements there."
It was a complete 180 from the halftime scene in which Schenider said his side felt good about the game. How could they not have?
After a slow first quarter, the Jayhawks exploded for 26 points in the second period.
Leading by as many as 13, KU lost a little momentum in the end of the period. Nebraska's Emily Wood made her only field goal — a 3-pointer — with 1:21 to play in the quarter. Then Hannah Whitish, who started 0 for 6 from the floor, knocked down another 3.
KU led by nine at the break. Whitish — and Nebraska (6-3) — would have plenty more in store.
"She was incredible," said Nebraska coach Amy Williams, who played for the Cornhuskers from 1995-98, though never winning in Allen Fieldhouse in that span. "She continued to want the ball in her hands and want to make plays for us."
Whitish finished the game with a career-high 29 points. She hit all six of her field goal attempts in the second half and added eight free throws in the final 90 seconds of the game to pad her scoring totals.
The Jayhawks, Schneider said, were exposed for their lack of ball screen defense in the outing, which helped lead to Whitish's breakout game. However, it wasn't one to completely flush away.
Schneider said, like any game, he hopes the Jayhawks can learn from their outing moving forward. That was echoed by upperclassmen Kylee Kopatich (10 points, 3-for-12 shooting) and Tyler Johnson (11 points, six rebounds), who spoke to the media after the game.
"Our motto, 'Tough and together,' I think we just lacked that today," said Kopatich, the normally upbeat junior who wore a frown in her post-game session.
"We haven't really played against that size yet," Johnson agreed. "At the end of the day though, there were shots that we should've hit and we didn't. This is just a learning experience we're going to take and move on to the next game."