LUBBOCK, Texas — LUBBOCK, Texas — Junior guard Natalie Knight came up big late in the game for the Jayhawks by blocking a three-point attempt by Texas Tech that would have pulled the Lady Raiders within three. Knight's blocked shot stopped the momentum from swinging in Texas Tech's favor as Kansas fended off a late rally to defeat TTU, 70-62, Saturday afternoon inside United Spirit Arena.
Even though Knight's blocked sealed the Kansas victory, it was junior forward Chelsea Gardner who carried most of the load with Kansas (11-11, 4-6 Big 12), scoring a career-high 34 points in the win over Texas Tech (6-15, 0-10 Big 12).
Gardner, a DeSoto, Texas, native, made her first eight baskets and added 12 rebounds for her Big 12-leading eighth double-double of the 2013-14 season and 13th of her career.
Senior guard CeCe Haper was just one assist shy of joining Gardner in the double-double club, as she finished the game with 11 points, nine assists and five rebounds. Knight also finished in double-digit points for Kansas, scoring 14, grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out three assists.
Texas Tech was led by junior guard Amber Battle who recorded her fifth double-double of the 2013-14 season with 19 points and 10 rebounds. Redshirt freshman guard Minta Spears and freshman guard Marina Lizarazu also finished in double figures for the Lady Raiders with 13 and 11, respectively.
Texas Tech got on the scoreboard first with a pair of free throws, but the Jayhawks answered quickly with seven-straight points to take the lead, 7-2, early in the first half. The pace of the game started to increase as the teams started trading buckets into the first media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Gardner kept her hot hand, making her fourth and fifth buckets in as many attempts to keep Kansas in front. The Lady Raiders cut the KU lead to two, 15-13, but two more buckets from Gardner and a jumper from freshman guard Dakota Gonzalez brought the Kansas lead back to eight, 21-13, with 12:39 left in the first half.
The Lady Raiders scored the first five points coming out of the under 12 media timeout, until senior guard Markisha Hawkins stopped the run with a three-point play and gave the lead, 24-22, back to Kansas with 8:34 left in the first half. Gardner's eighth make in as many attempts sparked an 8-0 run for Kansas and gave the Jayhawks a nine-point lead, 32-23, with 4:46 remaining in the first half.
The Jayhawks maintained their lead with six unanswered points late in the first half and capped off the first half with a three-pointer from Knight, on the infamous chop play, to give Kansas a 13-point lead, 41-28, at halftime. Gardner finished the first half 11-of-13 from the field for 23 points, the most in a first half this season, and Harper dished out seven assists to lead the Jayhawks.
Knight opened the second half the same way she ended the first half, with a make from beyond the arc to extend the Kansas lead to 16, 44-28. The bucket from Knight sparked Kansas to the first seven points of the half, before the Lady Raiders could answer. Despite the lopsided score, Texas Tech wasn't going to give up. The Lady Raiders scored the next 11 points to pull within nine, 50-41, with just under 13 minutes to play and force Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson to take a timeout.
Out of the timeout, the Jayhawks got a bucket from Knight to stop the Texas Tech run and give the Jayhawks a 12-point lead, 52-40. The Lady Raiders continued to battle, scoring five straight points to bring the Kansas lead back down to single digits. Another Texas Tech run, dropped the Kansas lead to as little as three, 57-54, before Hawkins drove to the basket and got one to go down, to give the Jayhawks a five-point lead.
Both offenses struggled late in the game, but Kansas was able to get to the free throw line, to maintain its lead. After a free throw from Gardner to tie her career-high of 30, with 1:27 left in the game, Texas Tech answered with its first field goal since just under the five-minute mark to pull within five, 65-60. On the Jayhawks next possession Gardner laid in a bucket to establish her new career-best mark and put the Jayhawks back in front by seven and end the Lady Raider's hopes of a comeback.
The win gives Kansas a sweep over Texas Tech for the 2013-14 season.
The Jayhawks will continue their road trip on Wednesday, Feb. 5, when they head to Stillwater, Okla., to take on Oklahoma State at 7 p.m., inside Gallagher-Iba Arena.
KANSAS STARTERS (SEASON/CAREER): Fr. Jada Brown (8/8), Sr. CeCe Harper (17/38), Sr. Markisha Hawkins (5/11), Jr. Chelsea Gardner (21/49) and Jr. Natalie Knight (22/75)
• Improves Kansas' all-time record to 768-544.
• Improves the Jayhawks' all-time conference record to 235-242.
• Improves KU's all-time Big 12 record to 112-174 and 55-103 in conference play under head coach Bonnie Henrickson.
• Gives Kansas a sweep over Texas Tech during the 2013-14 season and pulls them within nine, 16-7, of the Lady Raiders in the all-time series.
• Improves the Jayhawks to 369-387 all-time away from Allen Fieldhouse and 46-90 on the road under Henrickson.
• Improves Henrickson's record to 169-146 at KU and 327-208 overall.
• Gives Kansas its first win of the season in the month of February. KU is 29-41 all-time under Henrickson when playing in the year's shortest month.
• Improves the Jayhawks to 3-1 during the 2013-14 season and 27-47 all-time when playing on the last day of the week under Henrickson.
• After Texas Tech scored the first basket of the game, Kansas responded with seven-straight points to take an early, 7-2, lead with 17:50 left in the first half.
• Texas Tech cut the Kansas lead to two, 15-13, with 13:48 left in the first half, but Kansas answered with a 6-0 run to extend its advantage to eight, 21-13, with 12:39 remaining in the first half.
• The Kansas defense forced a five-second violation on Texas Tech with 7:08 left in the first half.
• Leading by one, 24-23, with 7:29 left in the first half, the Jayhawks scored eight-straight points to take a nine-point lead, 32-23, with 4:46 left in the first half.
• Leading by five, 32-27, with 2:37 left in the first half, Kansas went on its second 6-0 run of the first half, to extend its lead to 11, 38-27, with 1:36 left in the first half.
• The Jayhawks scored the first seven points of the second half, to take a 20-point lead, 48-28, with 16:30 left in the game.
• Kansas finished the game with 70 points. The Jayhawks are 8-0 during the 2013-14 season when they reach the 70-point total and 112-13 under Henrickson when scoring 70 points.
• The Jayhawks outrebounded Texas Tech 45-33. Kansas has outrebounded 14-of-22 opponents this season.
Kansas is 8-0 when Chelsea Gardner scores 20 or more points.
• Junior Chelsea Gardner made her first eight baskets and scored 16 of Kansas' first 26 points. The DeSoto, Texas, native finished the game with a career-best 34 points to top her previous high of 30 against Texas Southern (12/12/13, including 23 in the first half. Gardner also added 12 rebounds to her offensive effort for her eighth double-double of the 2013-14 season and 13th of her career.
• Senior CeCe Harper knocked in a three-point play with 10:39 left in the game for her 10th point of the game. The San Antonio, Texas, native, also finished the game with nine assists, marking the ninth time this season she has totaled at least seven assists. She was one assist shy of her second career double-double.
• Senior Markisha Hawkins scored three points the old-fashioned way with 8:34 left in the first half to stop a 5-0 Texas Tech run. The Little Rock, Ark., native, finished the game with five points, three rebounds and three assists.
• Junior guard Natalie Knight finished the afternoon with 14 points marking the sixth time in the last eight games that she has recorded double figures.
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