It was going to take an extraordinary performance for the Kansas women’s basketball team to close the regular season with a win Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
The Jayhawks’ chances against No. 6 Baylor got even worse when an injury to starting forward Ioanna Chatzileonti kept her out of KU’s lineup, and sure enough, the Bears rolled, 93-67.
“It’s not a team you want to play shorthanded,” KU coach Brandon Schneider said of BU, which already had wrapped up a Big 12 title. “Not having Ioanna, a player who could help us with frontline depth, today was definitely a factor.”
The overmatched Jayhawks, in their eighth straight loss, got into serious foul trouble before halftime versus the Bears, who extended their winning streak to 13 games.
KU’s 6-foot-3 sophomore center, Chisom Ajekwu picked up four fouls in the first half. What’s more, 6-2 freshman forward Katrine Jessen got whistled for three fouls before intermission, as did sophomore guard Holly Kersgieter. Both Jessen and Ajekwu would eventually foul out, and so did KU guard Chandler Prater.
The Bears (21-2 overall, 16-1 Big 12) overwhelmed the Jayhawks as KU (7-17, 3-15) tried to take on one of the best teams in the country playing five guards most of the second half.
“Not the most ideal situation,” Schneider said, “but I thought our kids competed really hard and that’s all you can ask for.”
BU’s star forward, NaLyssa Smith led the game with 21 points and 12 rebounds. Dijonai Carrington added 20 points for the Bears, going 4-for-7 on 3-pointers.
Baylor’s size led to a 59-24 advantage in rebounding, as well as 20 offensive rebounds and 22 second chance points.
As the Bears dominated, they led by as many as 39 points in the third quarter, thanks to a 20-2 run early in the second half of a game BU led, 42-20, at intermission.
KU missed nine consecutive field goal tries over the course of a nearly six-minute span that began in the first quarter and stretched into the second, as Baylor’s lead grew from five to 12, giving the Bears early separation they wouldn’t relinquish.
BU’s defense limited KU to only 10 points in both the first and second quarters. The Jayhawks shot just 21.9% from the floor in the first half, before going 15-for-30 in the second half to finish with a 35% field goal percentage in the 26-point defeat.
Led by sophomore Kersgieter’s 16-point outing, three different Jayhawks ended up scoring in double figures. Both Julie Brosseau and Zakiyah Franklin scored in bunches late. Brosseau produced 11 of her 15 points in the fourth, while Franklin put up all 10 of her points in the final period.
Schneider said Chatzileonti should be back practicing with KU on Monday after getting “a little banged up” during KU’s loss to Iowa State this past week. The coach said the 6-2 freshman, who averages 7.6 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per game, couldn’t practice on Friday, and Chatzileonti tried to participate in the team’s shootaround on Saturday, but it became clear she wasn’t 100%.
“It was in our best interest to just rest her,” he said, “and try to get her ready for the conference tournament.”
The Jayhawks will face either TCU or Texas Tech when the Big 12 women’s basketball tournament begins Thursday in Kansas City, Mo., at Municipal Auditorium.