LAWRENCE, Kan. – The Kansas Jayhawks led for more than 33 minutes Wednesday night and dominated Washington 61-36 in the Fab 4 of the WNIT.
With the convincing win, the Jayhawks (24-11) will now host Columbia out of the Ivy League in the WNIT Championship Game on Saturday at 4:30 p.m. The contest will also be televised nationally by CBS Sports Network.
“I thought we got off to a slow start offensively, just because of nerves,” said Head Coach Brandon Schneider. “We missed some shots that normally, we would make. You can’t blame the girls in a setting like this, probably for the first time. Our defense was locked in and they were really good all night long. It was great to see us, even the last couple of minutes, really stay attentive and take pride in trying to get a stop.”
Taiyanna Jackson posted her 22nd double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Jayhawks, while Zakiyah Franklin led all scorers with 14 points and Holly Kersgieter and Wyvette Mayberry each had 11 points apiece.
Kansas will now appear in the WNIT Championship Game for the second time in program history after falling to South Florida in the 2009 title contest.
Wednesday’s game opened as a defensive battle on both ends of the court, with Washington taking a 6-2 lead at the first media timeout with 4:38 to play in the first quarter. The Jayhawks held the Huskies to a 3-for-9 start from the field and a 0-for-2 start from deep.
Kansas got hot out of the media timeout and immediately went on a 7-0 run over just a 54-second stretch. After a layup from Washington, a Sanna Strom three-pointer made it a 10-2 run for the Jayhawks and made the score 12-8 Kansas with just more than two and a half minutes to play in the opening quarter. Washington cut it to two, but a three-point play from Mayberry in the final minute made the score 15-10 at the end of the first.
The hosts extended their lead to open the second quarter. After a basket from Washington, Kansas went on a 6-0 run to extend its lead to nine at 21-12 and force a timeout for the Huskies with 5:37 to play in the first half. Kersgieter converted a fast break with a layup to force the Washington timeout and get the home crowd of 7,229 in a frenzy.
It turns out the Jayhawks were just getting started. Washington hit a layup out of the timeout to break the 6-0 run, but Kansas then went on a 9-0 run right after the bucket that ballooned the score to 30-14. The 9-0 run came via six points from Jackson and a three-point play from Kersgieter. Washington’s Hannah Stines converted on a jumper in the final minute of the half to make the score 30-16 at the break.
The intermission did nothing to cool off the Jayhawks, who kept their foot on the gas in the second half. Kansas began the third quarter on a 12-2 run to extend the lead to 42-18 with less than five minutes to play in the quarter. Kansas closed out the quarter, leading 48-28 to take a 20-point lead into the final quarter. The Jayhawks got six points from Mayberry in the third and held Washington to 4 of 13 shooting from the floor with five turnovers in the quarter.
The Jayhawks led by at least 21 points the entire fourth quarter and held Washington to 7 of 31 shooting in the second half with 11 turnovers.