Oklahoma City, Okla. – Kansas women's basketball put forward its best offensive performance of the season to bury TCU in the first round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, 81-64, on Friday night inside Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The Jayhawks (6-24, 0-18 Big 12) racked up a long list of season-high and career-high marks in the upset victory. As a team, Kansas shot a season-best 54.7 percent from the field, including an 11-of-18 (.611) second-quarter performance. For the first time since Dec. 29, 2014, four different Jayhawks topped the double-figure scoring plateau. Sophomore guard Lauren Aldridge led the way with a career-high 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting, and added on four rebounds, four assists and one steal. Sophomore guard Chayla Cheadle dished out a career-high four assists on her 15-point night, and freshman guard Kylee Kopatich swatted away a career-best two blocks to go along with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds of her own. Freshman forward Tyler Johnson matched her career-best with 12 points, on an efficient 5-of-7 from the field.
Sophomore guard AJ Alix led the Horned Frogs (16-14, 8-10 Big 12) with 16 points and a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line. TCU's all-time leading scorer, senior guard Zahna Medley, was held to 10 points on 2-of-11 shooting, but tallied a game-high six assists. Senior guard Veja Hamilton came off the bench to contribute 12 points and tie Alix with a game-best three steals.
The Horned Frogs struck first, while Kansas opened the game with three-straight turnovers, but the Jayhawks then rattled off nine unanswered points to claim the early lead. TCU faced turnover issues of its own, with five giveaways in less than five minutes of play.
Kansas then went cold for more than three minutes, allowing the Horned Frogs to work their way back into the game and level the score at 11-11 with 2:20 left in the first quarter. The Jayhawks then closed out the period on a 6-2 run, including a buzzer-beating triple from Kopatich, which brought her first-quarter scoring total to eight points.
Much like the opening period, TCU began the scoring in the second frame but Kansas then took over. Sinking seven of their first eight shots, the Jayhawks put together an 11-0 run. The lead reached as high as 15 points, when Cheadle's third layup of the game gave Kansas the 32-17 advantage with four and a half minutes left in the half.
TCU looked to make another comeback before the end of the half, and utilized a streak of seven-consecutive points to pull within one possession, 35-32, with 1:34 left before the intermission. Kansas answered right back with a 7-0 run of its own, including a second buzzer-beater, this time a layup from junior forward Jada Brown, to carry a 42-32 lead into the break.
Another run of seven unanswered points, in favor of the Horned Frogs, cut Kansas' lead back to three points by the 6:50 mark of the third quarter. Once again, the Jayhawks responded. Nine-straight points pushed the lead back to a more comfortable level, 51-39, with less than five minutes to play in the period. The margin hovered around 12 points for the remainder of the quarter, and despite connecting on four of the their last five shots, the Jayhawks could only grow their lead to 14 points.
TCU shortened its deficit to 10 points early into the final quarter, as Kansas made just one of its first five shots. However, the Jayhawks refused to let the Horned Frogs back into the game. Four-straight field goals put Kansas in the drivers seat, and TCU was forced to play the foul game. Kansas did not blink, draining eight of 12 attempts, and it was enough to seal the victory and move on to the next round of the Big 12 Championship.