Junior guard Jessica Washington caught fire in the second half and fell just short of shooting the Kansas women’s basketball team to its first Big 12 victory and Oklahoma State prevailed, 74-70, Wednesday night in Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.
Washington scored 23 of her game-high 26 points in the second half, leading Kansas back from a deficit that grew as large as 18 points late in the first half.
The Jayhawks (6-14, 0-9 in the Big 12) drew even with the Cowgirls (13-6, 3-5) three times in the second half but never took the lead.
Washington’s final points came when her 3-pointer pulled KU within 71-70 with 25.8 seconds remaining.
Mandy Coleman hit a pair of free throws at the other end and Washington took a pair of 3-pointers in a three-shot possession for KU to tie to tie it, but both of her long shots came up just short. Coleman made 1 of 2 free throws with 9.2 seconds left to provide the final margin.
“I thought Jess got two good looks down there and I don’t fault either of those shots as well as she played offensively in the second half,” Kansas second-year coach Brandon Schneider said. “The second half was our best offensive performance in Big 12 play.”
The Cowgirls used their superior size to dominate the boards, 45-28, and draw fouls. OSU made 27 of 31 free throws, Kansas 11 of 13.
The Jayhawks stormed back with quickness by stealing possessions. They forced OSU into 24 turnovers and committed just 12.
The Cowgirls led at the half, 34-21.
“It was tough in the first half without having Jessica,” Schneider said. “She gets two quick fouls and so much of our offense goes through her; 23 in the second half is a pretty good indicator of how important she is. Boy, it’s a tough league, tough league.”
Washington made 10 of 20 field goals, 6 of 12 3-pointers and did not attempt a free throw. McKenzie Calvert added 15 points and Kylee Kopatich 10 for the Jayhawks.
Karli Wheeler (22 points), Kaylee Jensen (19 points, 13 rebounds) and Coleman (19 points) led the way for Oklahoma State. The teams meet again Feb. 8 in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas returns home Saturday for an 11 a.m. tipoff against Texas Tech.