Kansas Jayhawks women’s basketball team defeats rival Missouri in second round of WNIT
Sitting upright on the floor of the Allen Fieldhouse court, Kansas guard Chandler Prater raised her arms in celebration.
The junior KU women’s basketball player had just sacrificed her body, taken the contact and drawn a charge from Missouri’s Katyln Gilbert.
The Jayhawks were up 57-32 late in the third quarter, but Prater didn’t care. She was willing to do anything necessary in order for Kansas to walk out with a victory over the Tigers — one of KU’s biggest traditional rivals.
Prater and her teammates showed that kind of effort all night as the Jayhawks emerged with a dominant 75-47 victory over Mizzou Monday at Allen Fieldhouse in the second round of the Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT).
Playing against Missouri gave KU center Taiyanna Jackson a little extra motivation.
“I just love playing in rivalry games ...” Jackson said. “It was fun. A lot of smiles. It’s fun when you are winning — blowing them out. I had fun the whole game.”
Zakiyah Franklin scored 21 points and Wyette Mayberry added 16 for Kansas (21-11, 9-9 Big 12), which will play Nebraska in the third round of the WNIT on Thursday (6:30 p.m.) at Allen Fieldhouse.
Earlier in the year, the Cornhuskers beat KU 85-79 in a triple-OT thriller in Lincoln.
“I’m so happy to be playing them,” Jackson said. “I’m so happy we get to get our revenge. I am happy we are playing at Allen (Fieldhouse). I’m just happy.”
Kansas was one of the first four out of the NCAA Tournament field, which has given KU motivation in the WNIT.
“It definitely was heartbreaking to not make the NCAA,” said KU’s Prater. “We all decided if we are going to play (in the NIT) it’s two feet in. We’re going to play to win. There’s no backing down. There’s no, aw, feeling sorry for yourself. You got to put on your jersey and lace up and get ready for the next game.
“I mean we all love basketball. We came here to play. So, any opportunity to keep playing at this level in front of our fans, you can’t pass that up. “
Kansas coach Brandon Schneider cracked a rare smile in the third quarter, a telling sign of how he feels about his team.
“I think they’ve really responded in the right way,” Schneider said. “They’ve really channeled that disappointment and anger into gratitude for the opportunity to compete.”
Hayley Franklin led the Tigers with 17 points on 6-for-13 shooting. Missouri (18-14, 6-10 SEC) finishes its second straight season over .500.
The Jayhawks started the game on a 9-0 run, holding Missouri scoreless for more than six minutes. MU forward Hayley Frank finally got the Tigers on the board with a three-pointer, and from there Missouri went on a 13-9 run of its own. But KU still led 18-13 at the end of the period.
And from there, paced by the red-hot shooting of Franklin, KU took control of the game. Kansas went into the half with a 42-26 lead, with guards Holly Kersgieter and Franklin combining for 20 first-half points.
The Jayhawks tightened up their defense in the third quarter. Missouri scored just six points in that period on 2-for-13 (15.4%) shooting. Kansas led 58-32 at the end of the third quarter.