LAWRENCE, Kan. – Taiyanna Jackson registered her 20th double-double of the season Thursday night to lift the Kansas Jayhawks to a 64-55 win over Nebraska at Allen Fieldhouse in the Super 16 round of the WNIT.
Jackson was a menace on both ends of the court with 16 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks in the win. Chandler Prater also notched a double-double with 14 points and a career-high 16 rebounds to help move the Jayhawks into the Great 8, where they will face the winner of Friday night’s game between Texas Tech and Arkansas in Fayetteville.
With Thursday’s win, Kansas moved to 22-11 on the season, while Nebraska ended its season with an 18-15 record.
“You have to give Nebraska credit, they’re tough and physical,” Kansas Coach Brandon Schneider said. “I like those defensive grind it out games. There was a time in the game when I thought we looked really tired. I said, ‘Hey, you have got to feed off of each other’s energy.’ Right now, Chandler is the heartbeat of our team and we are feeding off of that.”
Similar to their win over Missouri in the second round, the Jayhawks started fast on Thursday against the Cornhuskers. Jackson scored the first six points for Kansas, and after a basket from Prater and a 3-pointer from Zakiyah Franklin, the home team opened up an 11-3 lead at the midway point of the first quarter.
The effort on the defensive end sparked the early run for the Jayhawks, who held the Cornhuskers to 2-of-8 shooting to open the game over the first six minutes of the game. After holding Mizzou scoreless for the first five minutes of the game Monday, Nebraska scored just three points in the first five minutes Thursday.
Both teams began to get in an offensive flow in the final minutes of the first quarter. The Jayhawks grabbed an 18-11 lead in the final minute of the quarter, before Nebraska answered back with a bucket to close it to 18-13, which was the score at the end of the frame. Kansas got a lift from Nadira Eltayeb, who came off the bench in the first to give the Jayhawks quality minutes with a basket, a block and three rebounds in less than four minutes of action.
After scoring the first six points in the first quarter, Jackson scored the first four in the second to get into double figures and give Kansas a 22-13 lead with just less than six minutes remaining in the half. A Zakiyah Franklin layup then gave Kansas a 24-13 lead at the first media timeout of the second quarter, with 4:53 remaining in the half. The Jayhawks held the Cornhuskers scoreless for the first five-plus minutes of the second quarter.
Nebraska cut into the Kansas lead over the final five minutes of the first half, getting to within three points at 28-25 in the final minute of the half. But two free throws from Franklin extended the Jayhawk lead back to five at halftime at 30-25. The Jayhawks held the Cornhuskers to 33 percent shooting from the floor in the first half and outrebounded the visitors 22-16.
The Cornhuskers continued their hot stretch to start the second half and – for the first time in the game – tied it up when they knotted the score at 36 with 6:04 to play in the third. But Kansas responded quickly and powerfully with a quick 5-0 run thanks to a 3-pointer from Holly Kersgieter and a putback bucket from Chandler Prater to make the score 41-36 at the first media timeout of the third at the 4:49 mark.
The two teams went back and forth over the final five minutes of the third with Nebraska getting a basket in the final second of the quarter to cut the lead to three heading into the fourth.
The Cornhuskers cut the deficit to one on two separate occasions in the first minute-plus of the quarter, but from there Kansas had an answer for every Nebraska bucket. The Jayhawks got back-to-back buckets from Franklin to push the lead to 54-49 with 7:33 to play and never trailed by fewer than five the remainder of the way.
Franklin, who played all 40 minutes, finished with 13 points and six rebounds in the win, while Kersgieter also had 13 points, while adding five boards. Kansas outrebounded Nebraska 46-29 and outscored the Cornhuskers in second chance points, 21-6.