Kansas University's women's basketball team defeated Border Showdown rival Missouri, 81-71, in overtime Saturday afternoon at Allen Fieldhouse. Missouri sank three free throws to tie the game at 64-64 near the end of regulation, but the Jayhawks (16-10, 5-10 Big 12) scored the first eight points in the extra frame to seal the victory.
"We love overtime," said KU coach Bonnie Henrickson, whose squad improved to 3-0 in games decided by extra minutes. "I am just so excited and proud of our kids. We told them in the huddle before overtime that we needed to take their fight away from the start. We did that by scoring on the first three possessions.
"Crystal (Kemp) and Erica (Hallman) both played really well. Erica started off a little slow but once she got things going did a great job. It was an awesome atmosphere today and I have great respect for the Missouri fans who made the trip over because of their love for women's college basketball."
KU senior guard Erica Hallman led all scorers with a career-high 29 points. She also dished out a game-high eight assists and grabbed six rebounds. Senior forward Crystal Kemp added 25 points and tied a season-high with 13 rebounds while playing the entire game. Her performance marked her 10th double-double of the season.
"It definately gives us a lot of momentum going in to our last home game of the season," Kemp said. "We are just trying to finish as strong as we can. We are determining our own destiny right now so if we continue to work hard defensively and do well offensively we should be alright."
Senior guard Kaylee Brown scored nine of her 11 points in the second half, including a crucial three-pointer late in the second half that tied the game at 54-all. In addition to her stellar defense, junior guard Sharita Smith, making her second start of the season, dished out a career-high seven assists.
The game was a back-and-forth affair that featured 16 ties and 11 lead changes. The Jayhawks forced 18 Tiger turnovers and converted them into 20 points. KU held Missouri to only 41.4-percent shooting from the field and 18.2-percent from beyond the three-point arc.
In the first half, Kemp scored 12 points while Hallman poured in nine as KU trailed at the break 38-34. In the second half, Kansas rallied behind back-to-back steals from Smith and sophomore forward Taylor McIntosh to erase a four point Missouri lead with less than three minutes to play. Missouri forward Carlynn Savant knocked down three free throws with nine seconds left to send the game into overtime.
Kansas continues its march towards a postseason berth when it hosts Sunflower State rival Kansas State on Senior Night, Thursday, March 2. Tip off is slated for 7 p.m. and the game will be broadcasted nationally on CSTV.
"It's definately a big game because we have not beaten K-State since I have been here," Hallman said. "It would be a huge win for us on senior night. We just have to work hard and get better this week, and find a way to pull one out against Kansas State.
"We are definately not counting ourselves out," continued Hallman of postseason play. "Anything can happen at the Big 12 Tournament. Who knows, we may be able to creep up on some people and win some games and make it to the final. So we are not going to count ourselves out. We just need to continue to work hard and be aggressive and have confidence."