KU women’s basketball coach sees ‘focus, fight and balance’ from Jayhawks
photo by: Ty Russell/Photo courtesy of Big 12 and OU Athletics
The Jayhawks lost their third game in a row on Wednesday, a nail-biter against Iowa State. Nevertheless, Kansas women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider left the defeat feeling hopeful about his team’s play.
Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Texas Tech, Schneider thought what he saw in an 84-82 home loss to ISU might have been the “most consistent focus, fight and balance” the Jayhawks have shown all season.
“We’ve had some quarters where that wasn’t the case,” Schneider added, referencing costly lopsided periods in which the Jayhawks dug themselves into large holes. “In this league, you have one quarter that gets out of hand and it’s hard to fight back.”
In the first quarters of recent losses, Kansas State outscored the Jayhawks, 23-9, West Virginia outscored them, 23-12, and Baylor outscored them, 21-8. BU also had a 25-10 third quarter versus KU. A little farther back, at Oklahoma State on Feb. 2, the Jayhawks were outscored, 21-12, in the second and 22-9 in the third. That came just three days after OSU controlled the third quarter, 28-11, in Lawrence.
“I was really proud of our effort for four quarters,” Schneider said after the narrow defeat against ISU. “I thought we played with a lot of toughness. I thought we really executed the plan on both ends of the floor consistently, maybe better than we had in weeks.”
What: Kansas (7-12 overall, 3-10 Big 12) at Texas Tech (9-12, 4-11)
When: 3 p.m. Saturday, ESPN+
Where: United Supermarkets Arena, in Lubbock, Texas
Quick Note: The Jayhawks’ strong showing versus the Cyclones (14-8, 10-5) came without senior forward Tina Stephens, who did not play. The reason Stephens did not play was not available.
Currently averaging 10.9 points and 5.8 rebounds in 23.8 minutes a game this season, Stephens has started in 14 of KU’s 19 games to date and played in 17.
With Stephens unavailable, Schneider turned to 6-foot-3 freshman forward Katrine Jessen in the starting lineup.
In her first career start, Jessen logged 31 minutes, easily beating her previous season high of 20 (Feb. 2, at OSU). Jessen didn’t score, but contributed three rebounds and two blocks. And her plus/minus of +9 led KU. ISU outscored KU, 22-11, during the nine minutes Jessen sat.
Streaking: KU’s near upset of ISU had a lot to do with the play of sophomore guard Zakiyah Franklin, who scored a career-best 26 points on 11-for-16 shooting.
“Her mindset, she was a lot more in attack mode,” Schneider said, “and it really impacted our team in a positive way.”
Franklin’s 16 field goal attempts also were a season-high, as were her three made 3-pointers (3-for-5). Plus, she posted a game-leading five assists and didn’t commit a single turnover while playing 35 minutes.
Franklin connected on each of her final four field goal attempts, with three of them coming in the final 2:20 of play, in a tight game.
“It was nice to see her be so assertive, especially in moments where we needed it,” KU’s coach said. “It was a game that I know hopefully will really be an injection of confidence for her.”
Slumping: The Red Raiders defeated KU, 75-65, in Lawrence on Jan. 20. But since then Tech, much like Kansas, has encountered more downs than ups in Big 12 play.
Tech’s only victory since that win at Allen Fieldhouse came on Feb. 3 versus K-State, the league’s last-place team. The Red Raiders have dropped six of their last seven games and, just like KU, come into this matchup on a three-game skid.
KU has won just once since its victory over K-State on Jan. 23. The Jayhawks beat TCU on Feb. 7, but have lost seven of their last eight games.
Last game’s starters
G — Zakiyah Franklin, 5-7, so.
G — Holly Kersgieter, 5-10, so.
G — Brooklyn Mitchell, 5-6, jr.
F — Ioanna Chatzileonti, 6-3, fr.
F — Katrine Jessen, 6-3, fr.
G — Maka Jackson, 5-8, sr.
G — Najé Murray, 5-6, jr.
G — Lexi Gordon, 6-0, sr.
G — Vivian Gray, 6-1, sr.
C — Khadija Faye, 6-4, fr.