Kansas University’s women’s basketball meeting today at Oklahoma has more than the usual end-of-season urgency about it.
“We have to win this next game,” said KU junior point guard Angel Goodrich, still reeling from a midweek collapse against Oklahoma State that cost the Jayhawks a chance to lock up the No. 6 seed in next week’s Big 12 tournament.
The Jayhawks will meet OU at 2 p.m. today with a shot at improving their spot in the standings.
Regardless of their seeding, the Jayhawks know they will play in the Big 12 Tournament. Whether they reach their ultimate goal of playing in the NCAA Tournament the following week depends a lot on how they perform in Norman today.
Many feel that the Jayhawks (18-11 overall, 7-10 Big 12) must win today against the Sooners (19-10, 11-6) to have a shot at playing in the NCAAs. Doing so won’t be easy. The Sooners sit in third place in the Big 12, have a 7-1 record in home conference games and feature a balanced lineup that includes three starters who average in double digits.
The last time these two met, the Jayhawks were 16-4 overall, 5-3 in league play and appeared to be headed toward uncharted waters as one of the top teams in the conference. The Jayhawks opened play against the Sooners on the final day of January ranked in the Top 25, but since then have lost seven of their last nine games, along with leading scorer and All-American candidate Carolyn Davis. Although Davis was injured against Kansas State in mid-February, it’s easy to point to the OU game as the night things started to slide downhill.
The Jayhawks led 27-25 at halftime and owned a 53-44 lead with 9:30 to play in the second half. The Sooners outscored Kansas 20-11 down the stretch to tie the game at the end of regulation and pulled away with a 10-4 run in OT. Those kinds of late-game woes have plagued the Jayhawks all season, including Wednesday in the loss to Oklahoma State in which KU led 50-41 with 13:42 remaining.
Despite their most recent loss, eerie similarities to their first meeting with OU and the fact that the Jayhawks are in do-or-die mode against the Sooners today, the KU players don’t seem overly rattled.
“There’s nothing we can do about (the OSU) game,” Kansas senior Aishah Sutherland said. “We need to focus on the next game and win that one.”