When Kylee Kopatich saw her opponent on Wednesday, her ever-present smile got a little wider.
“That’s like money for me,” said Kopatich following the Jayhawks' 81-49 demolition of Delaware State in Allen Fieldhouse.
Specifically, Kopatich referred to the various zone defenses deployed by the Lady Hornets as to why she was so excited.
Kopatich, a sharpshooter with a well-rounded offensive game, found plenty of space all over the court. She scored 19 of her game-high and career-high 23 points in the first 20 minutes, routinely finding open spots within the zone and even at one point springing wide open around the free throw line for a jumper.
Sometimes that space even surprised her.
“A little bit,” she admitted, “but I took advantage of it."
The Jayhawks jumped out to a massive advantage in the first half. It didn’t take all that long for them to do so.
Christalah Lyons opened the scoring with a jumper, which sparked a 12-0 KU run. After Delaware State hit its first shot of the game, the Jayhawks answered with another 10-0 spurt.
By the time Eboni Watts hit a layup with 3:50 to play in the first half, the margin was all the way up to 20. At that point, Kopatich had already buried four 3s. She’d add one more before the end of the half.
“We ended up scoring the ball a lot,” Kopatich said. “I know the Big 12 is going to be a little different because they’re so (much) more athletic than our non-conference, so I’m going to take every opportunity I can.”
Up 51-15 at the break — the half marked the Jayhawks’ first with 50 or more points in the Brandon Schneider-era — the coach tasked his team with a simple message.
Asked what exactly that message was, Schneider first made it clear that his thoughts of his team in the second half didn’t quite stack up with the first.
“Well,” Schneider said, pausing to collect his thoughts. “We didn’t follow it.”
Holding a 36-point advantage, Schneider tasked his team to value every possession the same way it did in the first half. What he saw fell short of the mark.
After allowing just seven and eight points in the first two quarters, the Jayhawks surrendered 21 in the third, allowing the Lady Hornets to shoot 47.1 percent from the field.
Delaware State finished the game shooting just 20 for 69 (29.0 percent) from the floor and 6 for 29 (20.7 percent) from 3. The Jayhawks shot 46 percent from the floor and 40 percent from 3 while out-rebounding their opponent by 25 (58-33).
“We haven’t been in this position much the last couple years to be up 30 and know how to just maintain that drive and that focus,” Schneider said. "It’ll be some good things for us to look back on.”
The Jayhawks locked back in, at least somewhat, in the final period.
Five players ultimately finished the game in double-figures in scoring, led by Kopatich, who also added nine rebounds and five assists in the win. Freshman Micaela Wilson (10 points, 11 rebounds) tabbed her second straight double-double, while transfer Brianna Osorio recorded 11 points, 5 assists and 4 boards.
With the win, the Jayhawks head into Thanksgiving break at 4-0 for the first time in the Schneider-era and since 2012 overall. For the coach, the break will consist of a chance to spend some time with family and to watch film, both of Rice for the team’s upcoming game and the Dallas Cowboys, of which Schneider is — or at least was — a fan.
“I’m not just real excited about how they’re playing right now," Schneider said with a smile.
Still, the whole thing probably would’ve felt a lot sweeter to the coach if KU had closed out the win the way it began.
“With it being a weeknight going into a holiday, obviously I’m very grateful to our fans who came out and supported us tonight,” Schneider said. "Hopefully, at least for 20 minutes, we gave them a pretty solid performance.”