Women’s basketball escapes heartbreaker, beats Kansas 73-67

Womens+basketball+escapes+heartbreaker%2C+beats+Kansas+73-67

TCU seemed like it would pull off a blowout win against Kansas Tuesday night, holding the lead for more than 30 minutes and cushioned with an 18-point gap in the second half.

That is, until the closing minutes of the game.

Kansas cut the deficit to four points within the final two minutes, but costly fouls by the Jayhawks gave the Frogs free throws to secure the win, 73-67.

TCU head coach Raegan Pebley, sporting black and pink for the Frogs for the Cure “Pink Out” game, praised Kansas’ comeback effort.

“Both teams came into this game feeling like [there] was a sense of urgency to get the win,” she said. “And I could just see out of their team that they were really competing hard and fighting hard.”

With the win, TCU (15-10, 7-7 Big 12) remains at the No. 3 spot in the conference. The team had held a three-way tie alongside Iowa State and Oklahoma State. Kansas (13-14, 4-10 Big 12) remains at the bottom, losing its fourth straight game.

The Jayhawks, however, topped the Frogs in scoring individually.

Senior guard Natalie Knight, the Jayhawk’s top three-point shooter, went 5 for 7 from behind the arc. She totaled the game-high 29 points, while senior forward Chelsea Gardner scored 20.

That’s compared to junior guard Zahna Medley’s 19 points and sophomore guard Veja Hamilton’s 18.

Senior guard Natalie Ventress also scored in double figures, totaling 14 points, including two 3-pointers.

“My teammates and Coach [Pebley] kept telling me to be aggressive,” Ventress said, “so that’s all I’m trying to do, really.”

But Pebley said the game wasn’t won through field goals.

“Momentum was created more for us when we were able to get some rebounds and get some hustle plays and loose balls,” she said. “And you saw multiple players on the floor just really fighting and that just kept our momentum going more so, and sustain it more so, than a big shot.”

TCU finished with 12 offensive rebounds, narrowly dominating Kansas on the boards, 31-30.

Turnovers proved detrimental to the Jayhawks. TCU scored 27 points off Kansas’ 20 turnovers—a story similar to the teams’ previous meeting, where the Jayhawks committed 22 turnovers in the Frogs’ 80-63 win back in January.

The opening minutes of the game looked as if TCU was about to have the same story. The Frogs turned the ball over six times early in the game. At 16:40, the Frogs’ only points came from Hamilton’s free throws.

Then, Medley decided to get aggressive. Trailing 10-4, she drove to the basket for back-to-back buckets to close the gap by two points.

When senior guard Donielle Breaux nailed the game-tying shot, Kansas began to revert to its old story. The Frogs’ penchant for the turnover cooled, while the Jayhawks’ own turnovers began to amass.

The Frogs were left to make do.

By the final three minutes of the half, Medley and Hamilton combined to build the lead that would carry on until the end of the game.

It wasn’t all-around dominance for the Frogs, however. Ranked No. 2 in the Big 12 in free throw percentage, TCU shot an uncharacteristic 69.6 percent along the charity stripe. They also struggled in 3-pointers, shooting 3 for 13.

What mattered, though, was the final score.

“The game wasn’t perfect,” Pebley said. “It never will be.”