Kansas University's women's basketball streak is dead.
No, not that one. The Jayhawks kept their homecourt winning streak and their overall winning streak alive with a 63-58 victory over Nebraska on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse.
But NU did end Kansas' five-game streak of holding opponents below 35-percent field-goal shooting. Barely. The Huskers hit 38.3 percent of their field goals -- scorching by KU opponent standards of late.
"We take a lot of pride in our defense," said KU sophomore forward Brooke Reves, who scored a team-high 19 points. "They got over 35 percent, but 38 percent isn't bad."
It was good enough for the No. 21 Jayhawks to run their homecourt winning streak to 21 -- a school record that's tied for the third-longest active streak in the country -- and their overall sizz to six games. The outcome kept Kansas (19-6 overall, 9-3 Big 12) in the hunt for the conference title and moved KU coach Marian Washington one victory away from the 500th of her career.
It also avenged a season-worst 20-point loss the Jayhawks suffered at Nebraska (16-9, 5-7) earlier this season.
"There's a lot riding on these next couple of home games," said KU senior center Nakia Sanford, who had 13 points and 12 rebounds and was one of two Jayhawks to record a double-double. "We want our 20th win and coach's 500th. And the fact that Nebraska kicked our butt was an impetus for us. And today was Jennifer Trapp's birthday."
Trapp, a former KU and Lawrence High basketball player, was born Feb. 13, 1975. She committed suicide last March.
"There were a lot of things to think about," Sanford said.
For the most part, it would appear, the Jayhawks were able to block out the distractions. Spurred by a typically tenacious defense and a 47-32 rebounding edge, the Jayhawks never trailed by more than five points and led by as many as 11 before the Huskers rallied.
Behind the three-point shooting of Brooke Schwartz, NU closed within three, at 55-52 with 3:51 left. But the Jayhawks, held without a field goal the rest of the way, hit eight of 12 free throws down the stretch while holding NU to 2-of-7 field-goal shooting.
"As an athlete in a game like this, you can get all caught up in trying to avenge a previous loss," Washington said. "It's important to try to even the score, and sometimes you get nervous. We found a way to win. This team did a nice job handling their runs."
It also did a nice job of spreading the wealth and shutting down the Huskers' top gun. Three Jayhawks -- Reves, Sanford and Lynn Pride (11 points) -- reached double figures in scoring, and three hit double digits in rebounds. Along with Sanford's 12 boards, Jaclyn Johnson grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds and Pride 11.
And they limited NU's Nicole Kubik to 14 points on 5-of-21 shooting. Kubik torched Kansas for 36 points in the teams' last meeting. That figure still ranks as the most by a Big 12 player in a league game this season.
"Their other shooters were on," Reves said. "Brooke Schwartz had a good night. But we shut down Kubik. That was our goal. Now we have to do a better job of shutting down the other players, too."
The Huskers geared their defense toward Pride. Using a box-and-one gimmick defense, NU caused Pride to miss nine of 12 shots.
"It gets frustrating at times," Pride said, "but when they double- or triple-team me, that leaves my teammates open. That's a loss on them."
Kansas will get its first shot at win No. 20 -- and Washington will get her first crack at win No. 500 -- on Tuesday, when the Jayhawks play host to No. 16 Iowa State. Tipoff is 7:05 p.m. at Allen Fieldhouse.
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