Kansas University women’s basketball player Angel Goodrich first arrived in Lawrence in the fall of 2008.
Since that time, the oft-injured point guard has been part of a couple of disappointing seasons and 72 KU victories.
With that in mind, Goodrich was asked on Thursday if Wednesday’s 72-67 road win against No. 23 Texas was the biggest of her career to date. She answered without hesitating.
“Probably,” she said. “Being on the road made it really big and exciting.”
In terms of what it meant to this year’s squad, Wednesday’s victory, though enormous for the Jayhawks’ confidence, was just the first of an 18-game conference grind that continues at 7 p.m. Saturday, when the Jayhawks (12-1 overall, 1-0 in Big 12 play) welcome Kansas State (10-3, 1-0) to town.
In terms of the big picture, KU’s victory against UT — its first road win against a ranked team since 2000 — provided a huge lift for a club trying to escape the shadows of serious struggles during conference play under coach Bonnie Henrickson. During her first seven seasons at KU, Henrickson’s teams never have won more than six Big 12 games in a single season. Although they’ll have two extra chances to eclipse that win total this season — with each Big 12 team now playing a home-and-home against the nine others — their win against Texas in this season’s conference opener has the Jayhawks hungry for more.
“We prepared for a week,” Goodrich said. “I think we were more prepared for (that) game than we’ve been in a while. We came together and we stayed together and that’s the most important thing to have on the road. It’s the first step to where we want to go. And right now we just have to take it game by game, and we can’t look past the game we’ve got coming up.”
Goodrich, who led Kansas with a career-high 22 points on 6-of-11 shooting, also added nine assists and seven rebounds in what had to be considered one of the best games of her career. The junior point guard has been so good so far this season that some have called her the best player in the Big 12 not named Brittney Griner.
“I think (she is),” Henrickson said. “I mean, who else impacts the game as much as she does?”
When asked if she was surprised by how well her backcourt mate had played so far this season, junior guard Monica Engelman, who scored a season-high 19 points and added eight rebounds in the victory against UT, added: “Not really. I would be surprised if she didn’t play how she plays every game. She brings it offensively and defensively, and I couldn’t ask for any more from her.”
While the final outcome was all that mattered, Henrickson said she was pleased with the way the Jayhawks attained the victory against UT. After racing out to a 30-20 halftime lead, despite 1-of-7 first-half shooting from leading scorer Carolyn Davis, the Jayhawks led by as many as 23 points in the second half, only to see Texas close the gap to 69-67 with 15 seconds to play. Though things got tight down the stretch, KU iced the game from the free throw line and let loose afterwards.
“We feel great about it,” Goodrich said. “It was crazy in the locker room, everyone was yelling, screaming, hitting hands. But today’s a different day, and we gotta look forward to the next game.”
Added Henrickson: “The toughness, the togetherness, the teamwork. You gotta be willing to do your job and emotionally handle teams when they make a run, and you gotta make a run back at ‘em. We did all those things. We celebrated it. You’ve got a 24-hour window. And whether it’s a win or a loss, you gotta move on.”