Kansas women’s basketball falters against Texas A&M, drops to 3-4 on the season

photo by: Sarah Buchanan/Special to the Journal-World

Kansas guard Holly Kersgieter takes on a defender against Southeastern Louisiana on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023, in Lawrence.

The Jayhawks’ 63-52 defeat at Texas A&M Sunday afternoon told a similar tale to most of the Kansas women’s basketball team’s early-season losses.

Center Taiyanna Jackson, who is averaging nearly four fouls a game thus far, found herself in foul trouble once again. Jackson was called for her fourth foul just two minutes into the third, and would not return until seven minutes remained in the final quarter and Kansas trailed 49-44. Both she and freshman S’Mya Nichols played minimal minutes in the late third and fourth quarters; Nichols fouled out with 22 seconds left in the contest.

After being Kansas’ leading scorer through the first half, Nichols didn’t score a single point in the second, while guard Holly Kersgieter kept the Jayhawks in the game as long as she could with 10 second-half points of her own and 13 overall to lead the team. She also grabbed nine boards to lead Kansas, while Jackson’s two blocks kept her in the top spot as usual.

A&M’s Endyia Rogers and Janiah Barker led all scorers with 17 and 18 points, respectively, while the next highest point total for the Aggies was starter Lauren Ware’s seven. The duo was just the latest player, or batch of players, to trouble Kansas consistently, a trend that has proven fatal over its first seven games.

A slow-paced first quarter saw eight total points scored by the five-minute mark, with Kansas’ first points coming off a Jackson layup on a fast break after forcing an A&M turnover. A balanced scoring approach and no three-pointers put the Jayhawks down 12-11 after the first period. A&M’s Barker and Rogers scored two-thirds of the Aggies’ first-quarter points.

The second quarter developed slowly, as clusters of scoring were surrounded by multi-minute droughts. Nichols played well as her foul trouble had yet to appear, leading Kansas with seven first-half points, as her layup around the seven-minute mark put the Jayhawks ahead 19-16. From there, Zakiyah Franklin added on to make it 22-18 in Kansas’ favor, before Barker and the Aggies embarked on a late run to end the half up 24-22.

Both teams found a bit of a groove in the second half, as scoring became more consistent and less discrete. That was when Barker and Rogers really began to take over, scoring 12 of the Aggies’ 19 points in the third quarter, and showing up on the stat sheet with a few defensive rebounds and steals. Meanwhile, Kansas saw its star center head to the bench in foul trouble, while Wyvette Mayberry, Kersgieter and Zsófia Telegdy were the only Jayhawks to score in the third. Even without stellar offensive production, Mayberry and Kersgieter stepped up to keep Kansas in the game through the third, as the Jayhawks ended it down only 41-39.

But after staying in a close game for three quarters, Kansas could hold on no longer in the fourth, as a 12-2 A&M run made it 51-44 with a little more than half of the period to go. After falling further behind, Kansas pulled back within eight points, thanks to back-to-back buckets by Franklin and Jackson, who made her return off the bench, but that was as close as it would get to a comeback attempt. A 6-2 Aggies stretch, all eight points of which came off of free throws, would close the door on the Jayhawks, handing them their fourth loss of the season 63-52, which is their largest margin of defeat in 2023.

The Jayhawks will take on Houston Christian at home this Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in an attempt to rebound from a tough 1-3 stretch with a win over their Southland Conference opponent.


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