With a chance to end a three-game losing skid and improve its NCAA tournament odds, Texas never gave itself a chance against Kansas on Wednesday night.
Another slow start and a poor defensive performance by the Longhorns led to an 85-61 victory for the Jayhawks in Lawrence. Kansas’ 85 points were the most given up by Texas this season and the 24-point gap was the greatest margin of defeat suffered by the Longhorns this year. It was also the first time the Longhorns had lost a game at Allen Fieldhouse since the 2005-2006 season.
“We got off to a great start and we were able to get some great separation in the second half,” said Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson.
After trailing by as many as 17 in the first half, Texas showed resilience and poise, clawing its way back into the game and reducing the deficit to just three points in the early minutes of the second half. But they would get no closer. A combination of steady scoring from the Jayhawks and horrible shot selection by the Longhorns cost Texas any chance at the lead and allowed Kansas to pull away.
“We just didn’t want to let them make a comeback,” said senior Jayhawk forward Aishah Sutherland. “We worked hard to build the big lead and we just had to keep at it and stay consistent. We couldn’t afford to get soft and give them the opportunity to get a lead.”
Texas shot a horrific 22.9 percent from the field in the second half and failed to get any offensive production from its post players. The Longhorn bigs combined to score just 19 points on the night and converted on just eight of their 23 field goal attempts.
Kansas’ scoring attack was led by Sutherland, who tied her career high with 24 points, and added 12 rebounds to earn her sixth double-double of the season.
“I was more focused than usual today,” Sutherland said. “I wasn’t as hyper as I usually am. I just tried to stay focused and keep my head in the game.”
Even more impressive was the play of Jayhawk point guard Angel Goodrich. The 5’4” junior’s career-high 16 assists were the most ever at Allen Fieldhouse.
“I was very surprised,” Goodrich said. “I don’t really keep track of my assists. Everything just went so smoothly out there, it just came down to my teammates knocking down shots.”
She matched her record setting assist total with an even 16 points.
Chassidy Fussell carried the offensive load yet again for the Longhorns. The sophomore guard had 22 points and was a perfect eight for eight from the free-throw line. Unfortunately for Texas, the supporting cast failed to show up. Senior guards Ashleigh Fontenette and Yvonne Anderson had just 10 points each and struggled to find their stroke as they shot a combined 36 percent and failed to hit a 3-pointer all game.
The Longhorns will look to stop the bleeding and stay relevant in the tournament conversation when they take on Oklahoma State this Saturday at the Frank Erwin Center.