Too much figgy pudding, or not enough Suzi Raymant?
Whatever the cause and whatever the cure, Kansas University's Raymant-less women's basketball team returned from the holiday break and suffered a 72-70 setback to Arkansas State on Tuesday at Allen Fieldhouse.
It was the 20th-ranked Jayhawks' third loss of the season -- and third by a field goal or less. Kansas (7-3) lost the three by a combined five points.
"It just seems," KU junior forward Jaclyn Johnson said, "that if we go down to the wire, we're going to lose. It's been that way three times. We gotta be tough at the end of games."
Tuesday they weren't, when they let a five-point lead slip away in the final minute and allowed the Indians (9-1) to score the final seven points.
"I thought we had the game secured," said KU's Lynn Pride, who scored a team-high 21 points and led the Jayhawks with 11 rebounds, but was charged with a turnover, an ill-timed foul and an ill-advised missed three-pointer in the final 1 1/2 minutes. "Unfortunately, we had a lot of bad turnovers, bad decisions, mistakes that cost us."
Kansas took a 70-65 lead with 2:13 left on a Pride layup. But over the final 143 seconds, the Jayhawks had three turnovers, made four fouls, missed two jumpers and went 0-for-2 on free throws, while ASU twice rebounded missed free throws -- one of which went for a stickback to pull the Indians within two points -- and hit five of its final six free throws.
"There are a lot of things," KU coach Marian Washington lamented, "that you can look at and find two points, three points, four points. Sometimes the ball bounces that way."
It seems to bounce that way more often when Raymant, the Jayhawks' second-leading scorer and top three-point threat, isn't around. After sitting out almost all of last season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her left knee, Raymant -- a senior shooting guard -- missed Tuesday's game with a groin pull.
She's listed as day-to-day.
Without Raymant, KU attempted just one three-point shot -- Pride's ill-advised airball trey try with two seconds left with the Jayhawks down by two.
"For some reason, I kinda rushed that," Pride said. "I couldn't tell you (why). I knew time was running down and we had to put up a shot, and hopefully one of my teammates rebounds."
Actually, ASU rebounded the miss as it had all night. The Indians had 48 rebounds to Kansas' 38, but ASU's Rae-Anne Smith let the carom dribble out of bounds with .5 seconds left.
Kansas inbounded to Pride, who launched the shot in time, but it went left of the iron.
"We've got to learn to finish games," said KU's Brooke Reves, who finished with 18 points on 8-of-19 shooting. "We've got to stay into it. We just played 39 minutes. We've got to finish. We've got to secure the ball. We've got to take care of the ball. " It's ridiculous to play strong for 39 minutes and dominate the game, then lose it in the last minute."
Aside from Raymant's three-point threat, would the Jayhawks have benefited from her presence in that disastrous final 60 seconds?
"Oh, yeah," said Johnson, who contributed 11 points and six rebounds. "Suzi comes in and plays defense. You can count on her for 12, 15 points. She's going to box out. She's going to crash the boards. She does exactly what we need done."
Tuesday's game was full of statistical oddities. Kansas shot 34.2 percent in the first half and 55.2 percent in the second, while ASU hit 25.6 percent of its first-half field goals and 51.7 percent after intermission.
The Jayhawks had more assists (12-11), fewer turnovers (18-25), more blocked shots (5-1) and more steals (13-6) " and lost.
KU dominated the smaller Indians in the paint (42-22) and in points off turnovers (26-16), and it outscored ASU off the fast break, 18-6, but Arkansas State outscored KU, 19-13, in second-chance points.
One final oddity: Arkansas State's Tanisha Johnson recorded a triple-double with 11 points, 11 rebounds and 11 turnovers.
Kansas will meet St. Louis University in the Sprint Shootout on Thursday in Kansas City's Kemper Arena. Tipoff is 5:30 p.m.
-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.