LAWRENCE, Kan. - Junior forward Chelsea Gardner scored a team-high 28 points and grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season while playing 38 minutes to help the Jayhawks end the No. 7 Baylor Lady Bears' 53-game Big 12 Conference win streak 76-60 Sunday afternoon in front of over 3500 fans inside historic Allen Fieldhouse.
Gardner filled up the stat sheet for Kansas (9-9, 2-4), but it took a complete team effort from the Jayhawks to snap an eight-game losing streak to the Lady Bears while also giving Baylor (14-3, 4-1) its first conference defeat since a Feb. 19, 2011 loss to Texas Tech.
The win also became Kansas' first victory over a top-10 opponent since the Jayhawks took down No. 7/8 Delaware in the NCAA Tournament on March 20, 2012. The last time KU defeated a foe ranked in the top-10 during the regular season was when the Jayhawks took down No. 4/5 Baylor on March 4, 2009 in Lawrence.
KU never relied on just one player to control the game, contributions came from everywhere. Two other Jayhawks besides Gardner scored in double figures. Junior guard Natalie Knight came up with 18 points and senior guard CeCe Harper contributed eight big second half points to run her total to 10 for the game. Junior guard Asia Boyd snatched 10 rebounds and hit a couple of crucial second half shots to help KU pull away late in game.
Baylor was led by the nation's leading scorer and senior guard Odyssey Sims who scored a game-high 31 points and corralled a career-high 12 rebounds. Sims found herself struggling from the field on the day as she was constantly being hounded by multiple Jayhawk defenders and nearly every shot she took was contested. Even though most of the Jayhawks' defensive focus was on Sims no other Lady Bear managed to score in double figures.
Both teams struggled to put points on the board in the first half until a floater by Sims sparked a 13-4 Lady Bear run, many of those points came from offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities as Baylor led 15-4 with 13:28 left in the half. After a timeout, the Kansas defense made adjustments to box-out and get defensive rebounds while still trying to slow down the potent offensive attack. KU manufactured an 8-0 run of its own, led by Gardner, forcing Baylor into a timeout clinging to a two point lead, 15-13 with 10:06 remaining in the half. The Lady Bears responded by adding four more points to lead, 19-13, with both baskets coming by way of offensive rebounds.
Sims found herself open in the corner and nailed a three to push the Lady Bear lead to eight, 30-22, near the end of the first half. Baylor looked poised to make a run and put the Jayhawks away, but Knight answered with a three of her own which ended up kicking off a 9-0 Jayhawk run to give Kansas its first lead of the game 31-30 with 21 seconds left in the first half. Baylor took a 32-31 lead into halftime, marking only the second time the Lady Bears have scored 32 or fewer points in a half.
The Jayhawk defense came out and played with a purpose to start the second half against the seventh ranked team in the country. Baylor went cold from the field and Sims was swarmed and forced to take long jump shots nearly every time she touched the ball. The energy and anticipation started to build in the crowd after KU took its second lead of the game, 38-37 by way of a run-out layup from Knight after a missed Lady Bear shot.
The game became a back-and-forth affair between the two teams. There were only three lead changes in the first half, but eight minutes into the second half there had already been four lead changes. With KU trailing by one, 47-46, the Jayhawks peeled-off a 7-0 run in large part to five straight points from junior guard Asia Boyd to force a Baylor timeout while igniting the Fieldhouse crowd as KU led by six, 53-47, with 10 minutes left to play. The Kansas lead would grow to as many as eight points, 60-52, after the Bears were assessed with a technical foul. Kansas looked much different on the glass in the second half, tightening-up and outrebounding the conference's leading rebounding team 51-47 for the game.
The Jayhawks found success with fast break opportunities connecting on six second half fast break points. The fast pace continued to play into KU's favor as junior guard Lamaria Cole stole the ball away at half court and found Harper who leaked out for an and-one layup that put the finishing touches on the game and gave KU its first double-digit lead of the day, 70-58, with 3:09 remaining in the game. The Lady Bears had no answer down the stretch for the Jayhawk attack, KU eventually pushed its lead out to 16 points, 76-60, and defeated Baylor for the eighth time in school history.
The Jayhawks will stay home and return to the court on Wednesday, Jan. 22, where they will take on No. 11/13 Oklahoma State at 7 p.m..