LAWRENCE, Kan. – The undefeated streak came to an end for Kansas women’s basketball as Nebraska handed the Jayhawks their first loss of the 2017-18 season, 66-49, on Wednesday night inside Allen Fieldhouse.
After heating up much of the first half, Kansas’ (7-1) offense went cold in the final 20 minutes of the game, making just four field goals and netting 13 points. Despite suffering a scoring drought for most of the second half, KU headed into the final quarter down by just one point. Nebraska (6-3) pushed its lead to double-digits in the fourth period, as Kansas couldn’t overcome its cold-shooting spell.
Junior guard Christalah Lyons notched a double-digit scoring effort for the eighth time this season, scoring 12 points to lead the Jayhawks. The Dallas, Texas native also grabbed three rebounds and dished out six assists, tying her career high for the third time this season. Redshirt-sophomore center Tyler Johnson knocked down 11 points and grabbed six rebounds in KU’s first loss of the season, while junior guard Kylee Kopatich concluded KU’s double-figure scorers with 10 points, while adding three rebounds and four assists.
Sophomore guard Hannah Whitish was the only player to score in double figures for the Cornhuskers, leading all scorers with 29 points (7-of-13), while adding five rebounds and four assists.
The Jayhawks started off their eighth-consecutive home game on a 4-0 run, but Nebraska took control of the game from that moment on. The Huskers went on an 8-0 run following KU’s quick start, sparked by sophomore guard Nicea Eliely, who knocked down five-straight points with a pair of free throws and a 3-point basket. After shooting 0-of-4 from the field and suffering a three-minute scoring drought, Johnson tried to get things rolling again for Kansas.
The Huskers continued their run with four more points to take a 12-6 lead midway through the period. Two and a half minutes went by before either team could score again, but the Jayhawks ended the quarter with a free throw from junior forward Austin Richardson and a 3-pointer from freshman forward Micaela Wilson to put KU within two going into the second period.
Defensively, Nebraska forced five Kansas turnovers in the first 10 minutes of the game, holding the Jayhawks to just 28.6 percent (4-of-14) shooting from the field. Despite KU’s struggles offensively in the opening 10 minutes, Kansas held the Huskers to just 25 percent (4-of-16) shooting from the field, while forcing three turnovers.
Johnson played a big role for the Jayhawks in first minutes of the second quarter, nabbing six of her eight points in the half first minute and a half of the second quarter. The Leavenworth, Kansas native split up the Nebraska layup by junior forward Maddie Simon with a layup and 3-point play to regain the KU lead 15-14. Johnson’s 3-point play started a 9-0 run for the Jayhawks. She added another free throw followed by a bucket from Kopatich and a 3-pointer from Lyons to extend the Jayhawk lead to as many as seven.
Nebraska tried to halt KU’s hot shooting, but couldn’t muster a run to cut the lead before the half. The Huskers continued to struggle offensively, shooting just 5-of-17 in the second quarter, while Kansas continued to knock down nearly every shot they took, connecting on eight of their 11 attempts from the floor. After the Jayhawks knocked down seven straight points, the Huskers answered with seven of their own to cut the lead to 34-27. Lyons knocked down a pair of free throws to hold onto a nine-point Kansas lead going into the locker room.
The Huskers came out the locker hungry to narrow the Jayhawks lead even further, coming within four points in the first two minutes of the half. Whitish knocked down a 3-pointer and a jumper for five straight points to open the half for Nebraska. Kopatich laid it in the hoop to score KU’s first points of the half, putting the Jayhawks on top 38-32.
Both teams battled back and forth throughout the period, but the Huskers came out with a one-point lead going into the final 10 minutes after outscoring the Jayhawks 19-9 in the third quarter. Kansas led by as many as six in the period, but headed into the fourth quarter down 46-45.
Nebraska ran away with its comeback effort in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Jayhawks 20-4 in the final 10 minutes. Kansas failed to knock down a field goal in the final period (0-of-14) to shoot just 12.9 percent in the second half. While the Jayhawks’ only points came from the free throw line, the Huskers made their offensive presence known. Whitish knocked down 15 of her 29 points in the final 10 minutes, with eight of those points coming from behind the charity stripe. Nebraska shot 50 percent (5-of-10) from the field in the fourth quarter to hand the Jayhawks their first loss of the season, 66-49.
The Jayhawks conclude their nine-game homestand with Southeast Missouri State on Sunday, December 10, inside Allen Fieldhouse.
— KU Athletics —