KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Monica Engelman sparked two key rallies for the eighth-seeded Jayhawks Tuesday morning, leading Kansas women's basketball to a 71-45 win over No. 9-seeded Colorado in the opening round of the 2011 Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship, at the Kansas City Municipal Auditorium.
The victory advances the Jayhawks to the quarterfinal round where they will face the tournament's No. 1 seed in Baylor (28-2, 15-1 Big 12), which will be contested Wednesday morning, at 9 a.m. Kansas last reached the quarterfinal round in 2009, and it will be the Jayhawks' fourth appearance in five seasons.
KU reached the 20-win milestone for the second time in the last three seasons and will carry a 20-11 record into Wednesday's contest against the Bears. The Buffaloes ended their final season in the Big 12 Conference with three straight losses against the Jayhawks and a 15-15 overall mark in 2010-11.
Carolyn Davis turned in a stellar performance for the Jayhawks, filling out the stat sheet with 16 points, 11 boards and three blocks. Monica Engelman scored a team-high 17 points, Keena Mays added in nine points while Tania Jackson and Angel Goodrich each finished with eight. Goodrich also dished out seven dimes had three steals.
Colorado's Brittany Spears led the game with 21 points and nine rebounds and Julie Seabrook finished with eight points and eight rebounds. Chucky Jeffery, who scored 23 points against KU in the first of the teams' two regular-season contests, was held to just four points on 2-of-9 shooting.
The Kansas defense held Colorado to just 26.2 percent fron the field and a dismal 15.4 percent from the perimeter. The Jayhawks shot an even 50 percent from the field to complement their lock-down defense.
Both teams struggled from the field at the onset, leading to a low-scoring first half. But the Jayhawk defense was able to hold the Buffaloes to just a 29 percent clip from the field. Late in the half, KU rallied to take a 13-point lead. A streak of three-straight three-pointers highlighted a 13-0 run that broke a 14-14 tie and gave KU a solid advantage.
A Davis layup keyed the run and broke the tie at 7:39. Engelman then followed with a three, and two strong defensive stops by Aishah Sutherland helped the Jayhawks maintain a 19-14 lead. Engelman hit a second-straight three that put KU up 22-14 with just over five minutes left in the first half.
Tania Jackson followed with another trey, and Engelman capped off the run with a long jumper that extended the Kansas lead to 27-14. Julie Seabrook finally scored for the Buffs with a layup, but Davis put KU back up by 13 in the next possession.
Jeffery scored six straight to close out the frame, giving the Jayhawks a 29-22 lead at halftime.
However, the Buffs continued to roll in the opening minutes of the second frame, with Spears scoring two layups -- taking the title of Colorado's all-time women's basketball scoring leader with her second -- and KU's lead dwindled to just three points.
Davis made it a two-possession game and moved the lead to 31-26, but a three-point play by Spears kept Colorado within striking distance.
But another offensive surge by the Jayhawks ultimately doomed the Buffs.The Buffs remained down by only a handful of points but the Jayhawks then went another offensive tear, scoring 16 unanswered points over the next six minutes.
Once again, it was Engelman who led the run, contributing seven of the 16 points, helping the Jayhawk increase their lead to 54-34 with seven minutes on the clock.
KU went on to further extend the lead, going up by as much as 26 points, effectively ending the Buffaloes postseason run.