LAWRENCE, Kan. - Sophomore Danielle McCray erupted for 36 points, including 13 in overtime, as the University of Kansas women's basketball team closed out its exhibition season with a hard-fought 74-64 win over Emporia State on Thursday night at Allen Fieldhouse.
The win improved Kansas to 2-0 in preseason play and marked the sixth-straight exhibition win for the Jayhawks. KU is now 5-0 all-time against ESU.
McCray owned the second half and overtime for KU, scoring a combined 28 after the break and accounting for nearly two-thirds of the Hawks' 43 during that span. The Olathe, Kan., native scored nine of Kansas' final 10 points in regulation on her way to finishing 13-of-22 from the field.
Kansas appeared to be on its way to an easy win early on as it held the Hornets scoreless for nearly four minutes to open the game and jumped out to a 23-5 lead midway through the half. However, ESU stormed back, ending the frame on a 21-8 run to cut the lead to 31-26 at the break.
Emporia State then tied the contest at 33-33 early in the second, but KU used a 12-0 run sparked by McCray and freshman Nicollette Smith, who finished with nine points, to regain a comfortable margin.
The Hornets again fought back, though, as they went on a 9-0 run to eventually take a 51-50 lead with just under three minutes left to play.
Following two game-tying free-throws by McCray to knot the score at 55, Emporia State had a chance to win the game with possession of the ball and the shot clock turned off.
Smith, though, came up with a huge defensive play as she forced a Hornet turnover to give the `Hawks a shot at the victory. However, Smith's three-pointer and senior Taylor McIntosh's put-back attempt fell short, sending the game into the extra period.
Kansas then dominated overtime, led by McCray who put the game out of reach with an unconventional four-point play midway through the extra-frame. The sophomore streaked down the court to connect on a lay-up while absorbing a flagrant ESU foul, and then made both free-throws to put her squad up 66-59.
Junior guard Ivana Catic had a solid floor game for Kansas, tallying eight steals and six assists to go along with five points, while McIntosh finished with four points and 10 rebounds.
The Jayhawks will begin regular-season play on Sunday when they host Hartford at 1 p.m. The game will be televised nationally on ESPN360.com as well as locally on Sunflower Channel 6.