Jackson, Jayhawks pick up where they left off with 88-46 win in season opener

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Special to the Journal-World

Kansas center Taiyanna Jackson goes up for a layup against Northwestern State Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, in Lawrence.

Kansas began its season opener against Northwestern State on a hot streak as it went a combined 5-for-6 from beyond the arc in the first five minutes. In that time, the Jayhawks also went on a 16-0 run to amass a commanding 20-6 lead.

Their three-point barrage continued throughout the first quarter, as they went a combined 7-for-9 from behind the arc, and by the end of the game they had set a school record for the most 3-pointers made in a game in team history with 16. They carried their advantage all the way through for an 88-46 win at Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday night.

“We realized they were packing the paint, and there was no opportunity to drive,” said super-senior guard Wyvette Mayberry. “It was just natural for us to just take what the defense was giving us.”

New additions Skyler Gill and S’Mya Nichols got the first points of their Kansas careers on back-to-back 3s to push the lead to 26-6 with just under two and a half minutes left in the quarter.

“Tonight was a great opportunity to get a lot of our young players some action,” said head coach Brandon Schneider.

Kansas finished its dominant first quarter up 30-9, with only one Northwestern State player, Jiselle Woodson, scoring in the entirety of the period.

The Lady Demons regained their footing a bit in the second quarter, scoring 10 points in the first six minutes compared to their nine total points in the first quarter. At the halfway mark of the second period, Zakiyah Franklin, Kansas’ leading scorer last year, finally scored her first points of the game on a three-pointer from the top of the arc to put the Jayhawks up 42-19. Defense reigned supreme at the end of the first half, as Kansas was able to finish the second period with a 50-23 lead, shooting 62.5% from deep and outrebounding the Lady Demons 24-11.

As the starting five rotated out in the second half, most of Kansas’ new additions this season saw floor time, with freshmen McKenzie Smith and Paris Gaines each scoring their first collegiate points. By the end of the third, Kansas extended its lead to 72-40.

As the fourth quarter began, the Jayhawks became a bit upset with some of the fouls being called. Five straight fouls were called in the first two minutes of the period before a point was scored.

The slow quarter led to 22 total points being scored, only six of which came from Northwestern State. The most significant moment of the game’s final quarter came at the four-minute mark when Mayberry splashed in a three for her 1,000th career point.

“I didn’t know until they announced it, but it feels amazing. I’m just grateful and thankful to be here,” she said. “I wish I would’ve made the free throw (later on). I’m not going to lie, I got a little too happy. But I saw my teammates stand up and cheer for me, and that made me feel happy. Then everybody (in the crowd) started yelling and it felt great.”

Super-senior center Taiyanna Jackson finished the night with 14 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks, even though she played limited minutes.

“Twin is obviously one of the best posts in the country, and she just keeps working and working, even if she doesn’t get the ball,” said transfer guard Ryan Cobbins. “Her movement really creates openness for us on the perimeter and I feel like that’s a big reason why we were able to get all those 3s.”

Schneider emphasized Jackson’s importance to the team even though she had limitations in Wednesday night’s game.

“She hadn’t practiced a lot lately, she’s battled a few nagging things. So it was important for her to just get up and run down the floor a bit, even in limited minutes,” he said. “To get her 28th double-double, it’s impressive.”

Much of the Jayhawks’ scoring, though, came via the school record for most 3-pointers made in a game in team history.

“It’s not really part of the game plan other than we emphasize layups, threes and free throws as much as we can,” Schneider said. “I just think it’s a sign that in our time here we haven’t had the ability to put four spacers on the court at the same time, and I think this team has that attribute.”

Super-senior guards Holly Kersgeiter and Zakiyah Franklin led the team in scoring with 17 points apiece, even though Franklin didn’t record her first point of the game until the second quarter.

“I don’t know that we’ll have a consistent leading scorer night in and night out. Even a year ago we were a team that four players averaged double figures,” Schneider said.

Jackson led the team with 10 rebounds and five blocks while Mayberry dished out five assists in her 25 minutes played.

The Jayhawks will be back in action on Nov. 13 against Penn State in University Park, and won’t return to Allen Fieldhouse until their Nov. 30 matchup against Southeastern Louisiana.

Box score

photo by: Mike Gunnoe/Special to the Journal-World

Kansas guard Wyvette Mayberry smiles after it was announced she made her 1000th career point Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2023, against Northwestern State in Lawrence.


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