A flurry of late buckets by Vermont spoiled Kansas’ chances of setting a record, but it did not take away from what was a dominating defensive performance.
KU closed out an impressive run through the nonconference play with a 77-36 rout of Vermont Sunday afternoon in Allen Fieldhouse. The Jayhawks were suffocating on defense and overwhelming on offense to wrap up a 10-1 record in the nonconference portion of its schedule.
The 36 points surrendered by the Jayhawks tied for the sixth-fewest points allowed in a single game in program history. The record-low was 29 against Iowa State in 1992.
“For 40 minutes, I thought we played with a pretty stingy mentality on the defensive end,” KU coach Brandon Schneider said. “We just played with a lot of intensity and gave great effort.”
Entering the final game of 2018, the Jayhawks were on a mission to post their best defensive showing of the season. Prior to the start of the contest, KU set a goal of keeping Vermont (4-8) below 40 points.
As the game went on, and the school record was in sight, Kansas changed its objective to keeping the opposition below the 30-point threshold. The Catamounts, though, scored 10 points in the final 3:31 to avoid a record-setting showing.
“We were just locked in,” senior Jessica Washington said. “We had a goal set from coach to keep them below a certain amount. I think we were all in, it was a great defensive performance by the whole team.”
KU’s stellar defense was on display from the opening period.
With 2:19 left in the first quarter, senior Chelsea Lott got in a passing lane to steal the ball and net a layup on the other end to take a 12-10 lead. The Jayhawks would never trail after that, as they closed things out with an 8-1 run.
Kansas then broke the game open in the second period, holding Vermont to just 2 points on 1-of-13 shooting during a 10-minute stretch. Vermont’s lone bucket come on a layup from Sarah Wells at the 6:11 mark.
“I honestly didn’t know we held them to 2 points,” senior Brianna Osorio said. “We were just playing defense. We were just locked in, getting into passing lanes and fronting the post.”
The Catamounts finished with 13 points in the first half, which marked the fewest points allowed by the Jayhawks in the first half since 2004.
For the game, Vermont went 11 for 41 from the floor, including an 0-of-12 clip from beyond the arc. Hanna Crymble, the team’s leading scorer with an average of 17.6 points per game, didn’t score until the fourth quarter and finished with 6 points.
“In the first three quarters, we were able to really maintain the matchups we wanted on her,” Schneider said. “When we started going deep into our bench, they started getting some favorable matchups. Collectively, we took a lot of pride in trying to make it hard for her.”
The Jayhawks also took care of business on the offensive end, despite being without senior Kylee Kopatich (hamstring) for the first time in her illustrious career.
Osorio started in the backcourt in place of Kopatich, netting a team-high 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting. Washington and senior forward Austin Richardson joined her in double figures by finishing with 13 points and 11 points, respectively.
A total of 11 players scored in KU’s lopsided win in the team’s last game before the start of Big 12 play.
“I like the identity we have developed on the defensive end,” Schneider said. “Offensively, we are a long ways from becoming what we can be.”
Kansas plays host to Iowa State at 1 p.m. Saturday.