Kansas Women Fight Off Tough Tulsa Team, 82-78

By: KU Sports Information
By: KU Sports Information
In the midst of a six-game home stand, Kansas (6-5) and Tulsa (4-4) put on an offensive show on a snowy day in Lawrence prior to breaking for the holidays

CeCe Harper passes by Erica Lane as Kansas defeated Tulsa on Dec. 22, 2013.

LAWRENCE, Kan. - Her put-back layup with three minutes to play proved to be her most important during senior guard CeCe Harper's first double-double of her career, which powered Kansas to an, 82-78, victory against Tulsa, Sunday afternoon inside Allen Fieldhouse.

In the midst of a six-game home stand, Kansas (6-5) and Tulsa (4-4) put on an offensive show on a snowy day in Lawrence prior to breaking for the holidays. Midway through the final frame, both teams were shooting over 70 percent for the half to bring a game, in which KU never trailed, to a frenzied finish.

With the Jayhawk lead down to two and less than 30 seconds remaining, Harper came up big again - this time on the defensive side. She swiped a pass and sprinted down the court for the assist to teammate Asia Boyd for the bucket that would put them up for good.

Along with her 15 points, Harper tallied a career-high 13 assists for the double-double, while Boyd led all scorers with 22 points. Boyd also tallied a career-high, dishing off five assists, to add to her five rebounds and 7-for-11 shooting performance - including 10-straight points in the second half. Junior forward Chelsea Gardner racked up double-digits for the 10th time in 11 games in 2013, scoring 18 points to coincide with her game-high eight rebounds. Junior guard Natalie Knight contributed 11 points to round out the leaderboard, marking the second time this season that four different Jayhawks chalked up double figures.

As a unit, the Jayhawks finished the day with a 52.6 shooting percentage, but Tulsa stayed close with its own 48 percent efficiency. The Golden Hurricane's shooting mark included seven three-pointers, six of which came in the second half. Sophomore guard Ashley Clark and junior forward Mariah Turner led Tulsa with 18 points apiece. Sophomore guard Kelsee Grovey set the tone from behind the arc with three three-pointers.

Getting the offense rolling early, Gardner hit back-to-back buckets followed by free throws from Boyd and a driving layup from Harper to kick off the game with a commanding 9-0 lead. Still looking for its first points of the game, Tulsa used a timeout, but would wait another 90 seconds before sinking a shot. When Turner broke Tulsa's offensive silence with a layup, KU's Knight responded immediately with a three on the Jayhawks' end to set the tone for a fast-paced afternoon.

After its slow start, the Golden Hurricane offense kicked into gear. Turner and freshman forward Stevi Parker combined for 10 points during a 12-5 Tulsa run that watched the visiting team hack the KU lead to a mere three points, 19-16.

The Jayhawks wasted no time responding as four different players got in on building an 8-0 run, highlighted by a three-pointer from Knight. The trey kicked their lead back to double-digits, 27-16, with eight and a half minutes left in the half. Tulsa kept fighting, using a three-pointer from Grovey and a layup from Clark in two-straight possessions to cut KU's lead to five and force a timeout from head coach Bonnie Henrickson.

Although Kansas came out of the pause to score four-straight, the Golden Hurricane did its best to steal momentum heading into halftime - tallying a 6-0 run to cut the deficit to three by the break, 36-33.

The Jayhawks got started on reclaiming a sizable lead right away in the second half. Shaking off an early layup from TU's Turner, Gardner led her team on an 8-0 run, scoring six of those herself to push the lead back out to double digits, 46-35. Both teams came out red hot, shooting better than 70 percent on both sides to up the game's already quick tempo. Each team traded buckets in three-consecutive possessions, but Boyd was the highlight. After racking up a layup and a jumper in back-to-back trips, she came back down the floor to hit a three-pointer and get fouled in the process. Her and-one free throw made it 10-straight points for the junior guard to keep Kansas in front, 62-53.

But Tulsa was lethal from three-point territory as back-to-back threes from Parker narrowed the Jayhawk lead before Grovey's jumper dwindled it to a single point, 62-61. KU kept right on pushing, thanks to a crucial block from freshman forward Caelynn Manning-Allen that returned the ball back to the Jayhawks, who went to work on creating distance between themselves and Tulsa. Harper took the reins, putting up five quick points to put Kansas ahead, 71-63.

The space still wasn't enough. Tulsa fired right back, trimming the deficit to 75-72, until Harper's put-back layup sparked the final boost. Now up, 77-72, Gardner scored four-straight following Harper's vital assist to Boyd to fight off Tulsa's last minute rallies and close out the, 82-78, win.

UP NEXT
Kansas will take a holiday break, then return to Allen Fieldhouse for a Dec. 29, meeting against Yale. Tip time is set for 2 p.m.

Postgame Notes
KANSAS STARTERS (SEASON/CAREER): Fr. Keyla Morgan (3/3), Sr. CeCe Harper (6/27), Jr. Asia Boyd (8/8), Jr. Chelsea Gardner (11/40) and Jr. Natalie Knight (11/64)

KANSAS' WIN...
Improves Kansas' all-time record to 763-538.
Improves KU's all-time non-conference record to 330-153 and 92-27 in non-conference play under head coach Bonnie Henrickson.
Improves Kansas' all-time record against Tulsa to 2-0. In the team's previous match up, KU defeated the Golden Hurricane, 97-45, in 1985.
Improves Henrickson's record to 164-140 at KU and 322-202 overall.
Improves the Jayhawks' all-time record in Allen Fieldhouse to 395-152 and 118-52 at home under Henrickson.
Improves KU to 180-79 all-time and 46-18 under Henrickson during the month of December.
Improves the Jayhawks' record to 3-1 during the 2013-14 season when playing on Sunday and 49-24 when playing on the first day of the week under Henrickson.

TEAM NOTES
The Jayhawks opened up the game with nine-straight points and held Tulsa scoreless until the 15:39 mark in the first half.
After the Golden Hurricane cut Kansas' lead to three, 19-16, with 11:10 left in the first half, the Jayhawks went on a 8-0 run to extend their lead to 11, 27-16, with 8:32 left in the first half.
Kansas went on another 8-0 run early in the second half, to give the Jayhawks an 11-point cushion, 46-35, with 17:16 left in the game.
With their lead cut to one, 64-63, with 9:13 left in the game, the Jayhawks responded with seven-straight to take an eight point advantage, 71-63, with 8:06 left in the game.
Four Jayhawks scored in double-figures: Asia Boyd (22), Chelsea Gardner (18), CeCe Harper (15) and Natalie Knight (11). That marks the second time four Jayhawks reached double digits in 2013-14.
Kansas outrebounded Tulsa (35-30) for the eighth time in 11 games that the Jayhawks have outrebounded their opponent this season.
Kansas outrebounded Tulsa (35-30) for the eighth time in 11 games that the Jayhawks have outrebounded their opponent this season.
Under head coach Bonnie Henrickson, when the Jayhawks own a 108-13 record when scoring 70 or more points. In 2013-14, Kansas is 5-0 when scoring 70 or more points.

INDIVIDUAL NOTES
Junior guard Asia Boyd completed a four-point play with 11:25 left in the second half to highlight a stretch of 10-straight points from the Detroit, Mich. native. Boyd finished the game with a team-high 22 points, grabbed five rebounds and dished out a career-best five assists, eclipsing her previous mark of four against Kansas State (2/2/13).
Freshman guard Dakota Gonzalez played a season-high 20 minutes and grabbed a season-best four rebounds to top her previous best of three against Purdue (12/15).
Junior forward Chelsea Gardner finished the game with 18 points. The DeSoto, Texas native, has finished with double-digit points in all 11 games for the Jayhawks.
Senior guard CeCe Harper recorded a career-high 13 assists, besting her previous high of 11 against Texas Southern (12/12), to go along with 15 points, five rebounds and three steals, for the first double-double of her career.


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