Even late into a blowout win, Kansas women’s basketball coach Brandon Schneider couldn’t stop clapping.
In their 61-36 win over Washington in the Fab 4 of the Women’s NIT, the Jayhawks were playing like every coach’s dream — stifling defense, hustling for loose balls and not letting up late, which led to total control of the game.
After KU guard Zakiyah Franklin hit a three-pointer to put Kansas up 60-32 late in the fourth quarter, the usually stern Schneider tapped on her shoulder three times and the two exchanged a high-five.
The looks of determination and seriousness from Kansas players were evident from the opening tip and a large part of why KU walked out as the victor on Wednesday at Allen Fieldhouse, in front of a crowd of 7,229.
Earlier in the season, Schneider said he wouldn’t beg students to show up to games. Still, he appreciated the engaged and animated crowd.
“I hope everybody that came out enjoyed themselves,” Schneider said. “I love the fact that they booed a call when it was a 25-point game so they were still into. That to me is a Kansas basketball fan. They know the game and they love basketball.”
Franklin scored 14 points and Taiyanna Jackson added 12 for Kansas (24-11, 9-9 Big 12), which will play Columbia in the WNIT championship game at 4:30 p.m. Saturday ... once again at Allen Fieldhouse.
KU previously made an appearance in the WNIT championship game in 2009 but lost 75-71 to South Florida.
For much of their NIT run, the Jayhawks used missing the NCAA Tournament as motivation: KU was one of the first four teams teams out. That isn’t quite the case anymore.
“I don’t think we are thinking like that,” said KU guard Holly Kersgieter said on using the NCAA Tournament as motivation. “We’ve played five games and that can only only be our mindset for so long until it gets boring.
“Now we’re not thinking about the Tournament. ...We are playing for us because we’re playing to win a championship regardless of what type it is and we’re having a lot of of fun, obviously. We are past the revenge-type of thinking.”
The Jayhawks were excited about the win, but the coaching staff was already focused on Columbia.
“Columbia is really good,” Schneider said. “I know they won on the road and (from) what I heard was a sellout at Bowling Green. ...We have an assistant coach that’s already well into that scout and when I walk out of here I’m going to know a lot more about them.
“They were in that same group that we were, I think with first four out. They really played with an edge and a chip on their shoulder, as well.”
Dalayah Daniels led the Huskies with 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting. Washington (19-15, 7-11 Pac-12) is now 1-3 in its all-time series vs. Kansas.
After trailing 6-2 roughly four minutes in, the Jayhawks went on a 13-4 run to close out the period leading 15-10. KU had nearly doubled up the Huskies by halftime, leading 30-16.
Kansas shut down Washington in the first half, limiting the Huskies to 26% shooting and no three-pointers.
The Huskies didn’t make it much closer in the second half.