Kansas’ win streak ends with a 69-61 loss to Baylor on the road

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

Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider instructs guard S'Mya Nichols Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, against Houston.

Kansas women’s basketball fell short of grabbing its first-ever sweep of Baylor in an up-and-down 69-61 road loss on Wednesday night that snapped a five-game winning streak.

Kansas was led by S’Mya Nichols, who matched a career high with 23 points after ending a 12-game streak with double-digit points in Saturday’s win at BYU. Nineteen of Nichols’ points would come in the second half, as she singlehandedly attempted to lead the Jayhawks to a comeback from down 13 points. Zakiyah Franklin added 15 points of her own as Kansas’ starters accounted for all 61 points scored in Waco.

Even coming off the bench, Baylor’s leading scorer of the season, freshman Dre’Una Edwards, dropped 20 points on the Jayhawks, including six from long-range. Stanford transfer Jana Van Gytenbeek was the Bears’ second-leading scorer with 11 points of her own as she also came off the bench.

After beginning the game with a five-point run and three forced Baylor turnovers, a few possessions later the Jayhawks entered a four-minute scoring drought filled with easy misses and three turnovers of their own. During this stretch, a six-point Baylor run tied the game at 9 before a layup by Taiyanna Jackson ended Kansas’ streak of seven missed field goals in a row. The Jayhawks regained their offensive abilities, getting out to a 15-11 lead before the Bears’ second run of the night put them up 16-15 as a foul by Nichols with 0.7 seconds left in the quarter gave Baylor three free throws.

After the Jayhawks went back up at 19-18, Baylor’s defense stepped up, stifling KU down low, as Wyvette Mayberry got blocked in the lane on back-to-back possessions and Nichols was forced to put up a rushed shot after being stopped on her drive. The Bears scored on the opposite end of the floor to grab their biggest lead of the game at 26-19 going into a media timeout. A 10-0 Baylor run on a six-minute scoring drought for the Jayhawks continued to grow the Bears’ lead until a feed to Jackson underneath got Kansas within seven.

From here, the Jayhawks limped to halftime, producing just enough on offense while looking bleak defensively as they took a 35-26 deficit into the break.

The Bears outrebounded Kansas 22-16 and scored 10 second-chance points in the half compared to only two from Kansas. Fifteen of Baylor’s 35 first-half points came from its bench, while Jayhawk starters combined for all of KU’s points, led by Jackson with eight and Mayberry not far behind with six.

Kansas changed its pace in the first half of the third quarter on the back of nine points by Nichols, whose first shot of the night from behind the arc went through and also was the Jayhawks’ first 3-pointer of the game. This crucial shot trimmed the Jayhawks’ deficit to only two, and a Nichols layup and two free throws on back-to-back possessions kept the gap small as she made it 47-45. However, after fighting back from what was once an 11-point deficit, Kansas let the game slip away once again as the Bears embarked on a seven-point run to end the third up 54-45.

That run continued to 11 straight, sinking the Jayhawks straight back into a 13-point deficit. A five-minute scoring drought epitomized Kansas’ offensive struggles, as Franklin finally broke the streak with the Jayhawks’ second triple of the game, making it 61-50. Another three and a half minutes without a bucket essentially sank Kansas, putting it down 65-52 with four minutes to play.

The Jayhawks did not give up, rattling off a 9-2 run to pull within six with 37 seconds to go, but two missed shots on their next possession ended the comeback attempt.

After leading Kansas scorers in the first half, Jackson failed to score in the second, attempting only three shots in 15 minutes of play.

The Jayhawks’ offensive inconsistencies sunk their hopes for another upset of Baylor, as a solid first quarter slipped into a heavy-footed second period and the story repeated in the second half. Kansas also lost the rebound battle 41-29 and was outscored 15-2 on second-chance.

Kansas will hope to regain the momentum it had before the trip to Waco as the Jayhawks return to Lawrence on Sunday to take on No. 10 Kansas State at 1 p.m. for the Sunflower Showdown.


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