South Florida Beats Kansas 75-71 for WNIT Title

By: AP
By: AP

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Jazmine Sepulveda scored 18 points and Shantia Grace had 16, leading South Florida to a 75-71 victory over Kansas on Saturday in the WNIT finals, giving the school its first postseason championship of any kind.

Jessica Lawson added 13 points for South Florida, including a key free throw in the final minute as the Bulls (27-10) held off a late Kansas run and won their third game in three different states in six days. South Florida had to win three straight road games to win the tourney.

Danielle McCray had 24 points for Kansas (22-14) and pushed her tournament total to 147, a WNIT record.

The game attracted 16,113 fans, the largest home crowd for a women's game in Big 12 history. The Jayhawks averaged only 2,555 at home in the regular season.

The record crowd got a quick-paced, hard-fought game. In one furious possession in the first half, the Jayhawks missed four straight shots from point-blank range but each time got the offensive rebound. Finally, McCray got a put-back.

Sade Morris had 19 points for Kansas, which won nine of its last 11 to reach the school's first national championship game in women's basketball. Aishah Sutherland had 12 and Kyrsten Boogaard 10.

Janae Stokes, as the time clock was about to expire, drilled a long 3-pointer with 5:27 to go that gave the Bulls what looked like a safe lead at 65-53.

But then in a game of alternating streaks, the Jayhawks unfurled a 13-2 run, seeming to gather energy from their record crowd, and shaved the lead to 67-66 on a bucket by Boogaard.

But Lawson banked home a shot and then added a free throw to make it 70-66.

The Jayhawks had the ball with about 1 minute left needing a 3-pointer to tie, but Sutherland threw it away and the Bulls inbounded with 51 seconds to go.

Grace, South Florida's All-Big East point guard, dribbled around the Kansas defense and fed Sepulveda, whose 10-footer from the baseline put the Bulls on top 72-67 with less than 30 seconds to play.

After Sade Morris' free throw brought Kansas to 72-68, Lawson was immediately fouled and the 6-foot-3 senior hit one. Grace added two more free throws before McCray canned a 3-pointer at the buzzer.

Sepulveda and Porche Grant led the Bulls on a 14-2 run closing out the first half and took a 38-30 lead into intermission.

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