Thursday, March 12, 2009

Women's basketball: Kansas 61, Nebraska 56

OKLAHOMA CITY – Trailing by 11 points early in the second half, Kansas' Danielle McCray battled for a loose ball in the paint, found the handle, and muscled up a shot in traffic for a basket.

It was the start of something big for the Jayhawks.

McCray went on to score 17 of her 22 points in the second half, Sade Morris added a career-high 24 in her return to her home state, and Kansas charged back to beat Nebraska 61-56 in the Big 12 tournament Thursday.

"The first part of the game, both teams were a bit antsy," McCray said. "Nothing was coming easy for me, but (that shot) gave me some confidence that I could actually make a shot. I think the team saw how emotional I was after that play and fed off of it."

McCray sank the ensuing free throw for a three-point play to cut Nebraska's lead to 39-31, and the eighth-seeded Jayhawks (18-12) kept charging back to earn a spot opposite top-seeded Oklahoma in Friday's quarterfinals.

McCray and Morris, a Norman native, scored 29 of the Jayhawks' 33 second half points. The duo also combined for 14 rebounds and 36 of the team's 50 shots in the contest.

"When the shots aren't falling, that's what great players do. They go get an offensive rebound and make something happen," Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "We call them Batman and Robin. (Texas A&M coach) Gary Blair calls them Pippen and Jordan. They are great together and when (Morris) stays aggressive, it makes them even better."

McCray's 3-pointer in transition tied the game at 48 with 8:15 to play. She hit another 3 from the top of the key to give Kansas a 57-55 lead with 41/2 minutes left, and the Jayhawks didn't allow another basket the rest of the way.

Morris took a steal the length of the court for a layup to push the lead to 59-56 lead, and her assist on a basket in the closing seconds secured the victory. Morris finished 12-for-19 and added seven rebounds.

"We knew coming here that we could play our way into the national tournament," Morris said. "I think both teams knew coming in that it was in or out for both of us.

"The defense we played in the second half was the difference."

Cory Montgomery had 20 points and nine rebounds to lead Nebraska (15-15), and Yvonne Turner scored 13. The Cornhuskers had won five of seven games after starting 1-8 in Big 12 play.

"I thought Kansas played really well offensively," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "I'm not sure what more we could do on our defensive end.

"They've got two big guards in McCray and Morris, who create lots of matchup problems for us."

Kansas has won five of its last six games, including a 69-45 win over No. 5 Baylor on March 4.

"Our No. 1 goal coming into the season was to make it to the NCAA tournament," McCray said. "I think we've done that."

1 comment:

Grace said...

Hi Addy, how was your vacation with your hubby? :)
Thanks for wishing for my wellness while I was sick and for the prayers.
By the way, did you see the tag I got for you? It was "Bag/Purse Tag" Go grab it, girl. :)