Kansas University's women's basketball season came to an end Sunday night at Allen Fieldhouse when Ole Miss defeated the Jayhawks, 78-76, in a WNIT first round game.
Ole Miss, which trailed by as many as 16 midway through the second half, went on a 20-6 run to tie the contest. The lead switched three times in the final minute, but Ole Miss guard Ashley Awkward hit what would be the game-winning jumper with 13.6 seconds to go.
Erica Hallman's three from the top of the key rimmed out with five seconds to go, but KU kept possession with 1.7 on the clock.
Shaquina Mosley inbounded the ball again to Hallman on the right corner but the senior's three was long and the Jayhawks' 17-13 season, and the careers of Hallman, Crystal Kemp, and Kaylee Brown came to an end.
"I caught it and shot it and it had a little too much on it. It didn't even hit the rim," said a disappointed Hallman, who said while sad her career came to a close Sunday, expects good things out of KU in the near future.
"We had some good moments and some bad moments. I'm going to remember all the good ones for sure. I don't regret anything that happened while I've been here and enjoyed the most of my time here."
Marija Zinic led five Jayhawks in double figures with 17 points. Hallman scored 15, while Kemp added 14, Brown tallied 13, and Mosley added 11.
"I thought we lost focus," KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "At this time of year there aren't any excuses, you have to get it done."
"I think it was another step in the right direction. But I don't think we had the year we were capable of. We didn't have the consistency or the toughness. But we made progress."
Ole Miss was led by standout guard Armintie Price, who scored 31 points. Ashley Awkward scored 16, while Johnson added 14 as the Rebels owned a 44-35 rebounding advantage.
Henrickson said she was disappointed that the Jayhawks didn't play to their capacity for a full 40 minutes, but also was excited about the progress her young players made this year and the potential next they showed for the future.
"I think we have things moving in the right direction. I don't think we had the year we were capable of," she said. " If we played like we did the first 30 minutes tonight I think we could have made the NCAA Tournament. We just couldn't maintain consistency. We have made progress, but still have a ways to go. I like our young kids' attitude and excitement. I like the excitement they have to get better."
Second Half Action
Kansas and Ole Miss misfired on their first attempts of the second half in their WNIT game at Allen Fieldhouse Sunday night.
Jada Mincy cut KU's lead to three on an easy lay-in off a nice feed from Armintie Price.
Marija Zinic got KU on the scoreboard with a turnaround shot down low with 17:40 to go.
KU's Crystal Kemp, who picked up two fouls in the first half, got her first points with a pair of free throws with 17:16 left. The senior's two foul shots gave the Jayhawks a 43-36 lead.
Erica Hallman hit a deep three to give Kansas its largest advantage at 46-36.
Zinic followed with back-to-back shots in the post to put KU up 14 going into a timeout with 14:52 to go.
Zinich hit scored again on a putback after the timeout.
But Price came right back with a three-pointer and a drive to cut KU's lead to 52-41 with 13 and a half minutes to go.
Kemp followed with a turnaround.
Shaquina Moseley scored on a jumper.
Awkward scored on a lay-up with 11:35 to go to cut KU's lead to single digits, 57-48.
Zinic hit another turnaround hook shot, but Price followed with a shot in the lane.
Price scored down low and then came up with a steal and a lay-up. The junior guard has 27 points and cut the Rebels deficit to 59-54.
Zinic, who has 17 points, came up with a rebound and putback after Kemp misfired on an off-balance offering as the shot-clock expired.
A flurry of activity by Ole Miss, including a lay-in by Shawn Goff with 8:13 to go cut KU's one-time lead of 16 to two, 61-59.
Price came up with another steal and lay-up to tie the contest.
Kemp followed with a basket inside for KU.
But LaTany Jones answered with a drive to knot the contest at 63 as Ole Miss on a 20-6 run.
The Rebels took back the lead for the first time since midway through the first half on a shot by Johnson from the right side.
A three by Johnson with 5:58 to go put Mississippi up five, 68-63.
Kemp was fouled by Goff. The KU senior hit both foul shots to cut KU's deficit to 68-65, with 5:19 to go.
Kemp scored on an interior pass from McIntosh to make the score 68-67 with under five minutes to play.
Ole Miss committed a turnover on the other end, but McIntosh misfired down low.
Kemp missed a shot down low and Ole Miss called a timeout as the Rebels were fighting for a loose ball.
Johnson got a hanging shot to fall in for the Rebels as Ole MIss went up three.
But Hallman answered with a jumper and Price was called for a turnover as KU trails 70-69 with 2:52 to go.
Kemp was fouled and the KU senior hit both free throws to put the Jayhawks up 71-70 with 2:42 to go.
Jones missed a jumper but got her own rebound and then connected on a shot for the lead.
But Brown swished a three-pointer in the right corner with 2:05 to go to put Kansas ahead 74-72.
Goff tied the game on a shot inside.
Brown missed a three from the left side with a little more than a minute left and Ole Miss called a timeout.
Price gave the Rebels the lead with a midrange shot from the left side with 54.4 seconds to go.
Kemp tied things on a turnaround down low with :34 seconds showing.
Ole Miss went down the floor and got a jumper from Awkward to go in on the baseline for the 78-76 lead. KU called a timeout with 13.6 to go.
Hallman's three with five seconds to go rimmed off, but KU kept possession with 1.7 on the clock.
Mosley inbounded to Hallman on the right corner but the senior's three was long and the Jayhawks season came to an end with a 78-76 loss to Ole Miss in a WNIT first round game at Allen Fieldhouse.
A strong finish to the first half gave Kansas a 39-34 lead at halftime of its WNIT contest against Ole Miss Sunday at Allen Fieldhouse.
Jayhawk seniors Erica Hallman and Kaylee Brown led Kansas with 10 points a piece while junior guard Shaquina Mosley added eight as KU shot 52-percent from the field.
Kansas held a 17-15 rebounding margin and 16-6 edge on points in the paint.
Ole Miss was led by Armintie Price's 13 points.
First Half Action
Ole Miss won the tip, but couldn't convert on its first possession of the WNIT game between the Rebels and Kansas at Allen Fieldhouse Sunday.
KU senior Kaylee Brown opened the scoring with a jumper just in front of the three-point line.
Ole Miss guard Ashley Awkward answered with three straight jumpers to put Ole Miss ahead.
But a basket in the lane by Taylor McIntosh tied the contest for Kansas.
However a long three by Rebel Ashley Johson put Ole Miss up 9-6 four mintues into the contest.
McIntosh scored again in the lane to make the score 9-8.
McIntosh completed her six-point scoring spurt with a pair of free throws.
Armintie Price answered with two foul shots to give Ole Miss a 13-10 lead with 15:37 to go in the first half.
Price followed with a steal and score for the five point Rebel lead.
Ole Miss's Johnson sank a baseline jumper to go up 17-10.
Erica Hallman hit a three from the left corner and Marija Zinic scored underneath to pull within 17-15 with 12:53 to go in the half.
Awkward got a friendly bounce to put Ole Miss up 19-15 heading into a timeout with 11:51.
Hallman hit a pair of free throws with 10:44 on the clock to cut the score to 19-17.
Danetra Forrest scored on the blocks over Crystal Kemp.
Brown hit a step-in jumper with nine and a half to go, but Ole Miss's talented guard, Price, drilled a three from the left side to put the Rebels back up by five.
Hallman fired in a three from the left side, but Price came right back down and hit a short jumper to keep Ole Miss ahead 26-22.
Brown hit a free throw with 6:51 in the first half and Zinich followed with a charity to cut KU's deficit to 26-24.
Zinic tied the game on a short hook shot with just over five to play.
Ole Miss committed back-to-back-to-back turnovers.
Shaquina Mosley gave KU its first lead since early in the game with a free throw with a little more than four minutes to play.
Awkward put Ole Miss back in front by one, but Brown swished a three from the right corner to put KU up 30-28 with 3:23 left in the half.
Forrest tied the contest with a pair of charities with 2:32 to go, but Mosley answered with a drive and Ole Miss was called for palming the basketball.
Brown scored but Johnson followed with a jumper for the Rebels.
Moseley knocked down a three from the top of the key with a little more than a minute and a half left to put KU up by five. But Ole Miss's Price hit two foul shots.
Brown missed a three with 17 seconds left, but got her own rebound. Mosley took the ball to the hoop scored and was fouled. She missed the free throw but KU went into the break with a 39-34 lead.
For the first time in eight years, the Kansas women have outlasted the men in postseason play.
Tonight three Jayhawk seniors could keep their careers alive when Kansas (17-12, 5-11 Big 12) takes on Ole Miss (16-13, 5-9 SEC) tonight at 6 p.m. in a WNIT game at Allen Fieldhouse.
"I feel good because we haven't been here before," said KU senior Erica Hallman. "I hope we keep winning and advancing."
A Jayhawk win against the Rebels would pit KU against the winner of the Pittsburgh at a date, time and place to be determined.
"They're similar to A&M;," said KU coach Bonnie Henrickson of Ole Miss,"but they run a defense we haven't seen all year. A&M; played man, but Ole Miss runs a match-up zone with traps."
Ole Miss is playing in the WNIT for the third time in school history although the Lady Rebels have never won a game in the event. Mississippi is led by All-SEC First Team member Armintie Price who is considered by many to be one of the top guards in the country. She averages a team-high 16.9 points and an astonishing 9.9 rebounds per game and was recently named a finalist for the 2006 WBCA/Kodak All-America Team.
Price is backed up by senior guard Ashley Johnson with 11.2 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. Off the bench, Ole Miss has gotten solid production from Carla Batee, a sophomore transfer from Western Kentucky. Batee averages 9.7 points and 3.6 rebounds per game for the season, but has posted double-figures in seven of the last nine games.
Kansas, playing in the postseason for the 17th time in school history, faces Ole Miss after defeating Northern Iowa 59-49 on Thursday in Lawrence. KU senior All-Big 12 first teamer Crystal Kemp posted her 11th double-double with 18 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Jayhawk attack. Senior guard Erica Hallman added 13 points as did freshman reserve forward Marija Zinic.
The Jayhawks are led by seniors Kemp, Hallman and Kaylee Brown who are all having their finest seasons in a Jayhawk uniform. Kemp ranks 22nd in the country with an average of 18.7 points per game to go with 8.4 boards per contest. Hallman is second in scoring with 14.2 points per game and leads the team with 59 three-pointers made. Brown averages 11.2 points per outing while knocking down 56 treys.
KU has never played in the WNIT under its current format, but did play in the NWIT twice -- in 1978 and 1991 -- when it was an eight-team tournament. The NWIT later went to 16 teams until its final year of 1996. There was no NWIT tournament in 1997. In 1998, the tournament was brought back under the new name WNIT and in 1999, the field expanded to 32 teams. This year, the tournament has expanded to 40 teams.
"If everyone brings two of their closest friends," Henrickson said, "we should have it rocking in here."