UC Riverside may be in a funk, but Kansas University’s next women’s basketball foe won’t be treated lightly by coach Bonnie Henrickson.
“The two toughest games are the one after finals and the one after the holiday break,” Henrickson said. “That’s when you have to bank on your experienced players.”
After a week of studying and taking final exams, the No. 22-ranked Jayhawks (7-2) will resume competition today against the Highlanders (2-6).
Tipoff will be at 1 p.m. in Allen Fieldhouse. Sunflower Broadband 6 will carry a live telecast.
Although Henrickson says she always worries about the first game back after finals, she didn’t see anything negative during last week’s sporadic practice sessions.
“I think our preparation has been good,” she said. “I think we’ll be OK.”
Today’s game will end a string of five straight home games that began following the Jayhawks’ trip to the Bahamas, and KU should have little trouble making it five wins in a row against the struggling Californians.
On Thursday night in Stillwater, Okla., Oklahoma State handed UC Riverside its third straight loss, 69-46. In that game, the Highlanders shot a paltry 29 percent and turned the ball over 20 times.
UC Riverside was predicted to finish fourth in the Big West Conference after losing eight seniors from a team that went 19-12 last year and earned a berth in the WNIT. However, coach John Margaritis’ team has battled numerous injuries, and his bench is thin. He has used only seven players in each of the last two outings.
A couple of Highlanders are from Perris, Calif., home of KU sophomore Aishah Sutherland.
“Aishah knows a couple of their kids,” Henrickson said, “and she said they could hang with her, so they’re obviously pretty good.”
KU’s next game will be Tuesday night at Houston University. After meeting the Cougars, KU’s players will have four days off before resuming practice for a Dec. 30 home game against Pepperdine.
• Tania Jackson, the Lawrence High product who is red-shirting this season, underwent cartilage surgery last week and won’t be able to practice for at least a month. Jackson had undergone ACL surgery 14 months ago.
• Senior forward Porscha Weddington, who has missed all nine regular season games with mono, is participating in about 50 percent of practices, Henrickson said.
• Danielle McCray ranks eighth nationally in three-point shooting (52.3 percent) and the Jayhawks rank ninth in that category (46.4).