LAWRENCE, Kan. – Taiyanna Jackson and Chandler Prater recorded double-doubles to lead the Kansas Jayhawks to an 86-72 victory over Western Kentucky in the opening round of WNIT play on Friday night in Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas improves to 20-11 on the year with the win, securing the second-straight 20-win season for the program and the 23rd in school history.
“Well, for not playing for a week, we looked a little disjointed in the first half,” Kansas Coach Brandon Schneider said. “We were able to collect ourselves and we did a better job defensively in the second half. It’s good to see us respond like that, and we did a better job of getting Taiyanna more touches down low in the second half.”
Things were neck-and-neck throughout the first, with neither team gaining much of an advantage until the final minute of the quarter. The Jayhawks went on a late run and got out in front by six, leading the Hilltoppers 20-14 heading into the second.
The second was no different, with Western Kentucky closing in on the Jayhawks at a steady pace. The Hilltoppers went up 29-27 with 3:24 left on the clock, but Kansas was able to tie up the game at 36-36 before the half. Zakiyah Franklin led the way in the points column for the Jayhawks, knocking down 10 total during the first half. Jackson also proved to be in her element with eight rebounds and two blocks before halftime, leading the team in both statistical categories.
The Jayhawks really got going in the third quarter, outscoring Western Kentucky 30-15 to take control of the game. Kansas led 66-51 at the end of the third quarter and put the game away in the fourth, despite WKU getting two points back for a final margin of 13.
All five of Kansas’ starters scored in double figures, making for a balanced team effort across the board. Jackson and Prater dominated in the paint with the top defensive performances for the Jayhawks. Jackson scored 21 points and grabbed 15 total rebounds for her 19th double-double of the season, while Prater had 13 points and 13 rebounds for her third double-double of the year. Prater’s 13 boards were also good for a new career-high.
Franklin, KU’s leading scorer, went for 20 points, six rebounds and seven assists, while Holly Kersgieter had 14 points and Wyvette Mayberry added 11.
With the win, Kansas improves to 4-0 in WNIT first round games and 6-0 all-time in WNIT openers, regardless of round. The Jayhawks advance to face former conference foe and longtime rival Missouri on Monday night. That game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. CT from Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence.
“My good friends talk to me about the Missouri rivalry all the time,” Schneider said. “Tomorrow will be an education day on what the rivalry means. The preparation there is important as the ‘X’s and O’s’ we put on the board.”