LAWRENCE, Kan. - West Virginia used a second half scoring streak to push its winning streak to eleven straight as the Mountaineers topped Kansas, 65-55, in the Big 12 opener for both teams at Allen Fieldhouse Thursday night.
The Mountaineers (12-1, 1-0 Big 12) turned their biggest deficit into their biggest lead with a 16-0 run starting near the midpoint of the second half and limited the Jayhawks (7-6, 0-1 Big 12) to just three field goals over the final 11:45 of the game to secure the win.
KU's Natalie Knight scored a game-high 15 points, one of three Jayhawks in double figures, and helped Kansas to a 46-41 lead in the second half, but an 8:16 scoring drought saw West Virginia take control and eventually claim the victory. Asia Boyd chipped in 12 and Chelsea Gardner had 10 for Kansas.
Christal Caldwell led the Mountaineers with 14 points and was joined in double figures by Asya Bussie (13) and Taylor Palmer (11). West Virginia didn't shoot particularly well, hitting just 34.9 percent (22-of-63) shots from the field, but the Mountaineers out-rebounded KU, 47-28, including 23 offensive rebounds.
"They had 23 offensive rebounds and we had seven," Kansas head coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "That was the difference in the game - the extra possessions."
Kansas trailed by double digits early at 13-3, but Knight poured in five of the first six points and an offense that looked to run in transition cut the lead to 13-12, then a Knight three tied the game at 15-15 with 11:35 to play before half.
No matter how hard the Jayhawks pushed, however, West Virginia seemed to push the lead back out. KU forward Jada Brown tied the game at 19-19, but WVU's Brooke Hampton hit a three to provide some distance.
Kansas drew close in the final minute of the half as Boyd connected on a long jumper to make it 27-26, before half, then Dakota Gonzalez finally tipped the scale in KU's favor by intercepting an inbounds pass with five ticks before the break and laid it in to give the Jayhawks a 28-27 lead going into the locker rooms.
The point total was the third-fewest points in a half for Kansas as the season hits its middle third, but held West Virginia to its lowest first half point total of the season.
Kansas pushed the lead to as many as five points in the second half. Boyd hit a contested lay-up and added a free throw to complete the three-point play to give Kansas a 46-41 edge with 11:45 to go.
WVU scored four straight and nearly flipped the script on Boyd, who fouled Linda Stepney on a made lay-up, but a missed bonus kept KU on top 46-45. That would be KU's final lead, however.
Caldwell drained a jumper to give WVU a 47-46 advantage at 9:04 that prompted a timeout from the Kansas head coach. The Mountaineers then turned their turned KU's largest lead into its largest deficit.
Kansas went scoreless for more than eight minutes as the Mountaineers rolled up 16 total unanswered points and to a 57-46 advantage.
Jayhawk guard Keyla Morgan hit a three with 3:30 to end the drought and cut the deficit to eight, then hit another three with 1:15 to play but couldn't draw KU any closer than 60-52. Cece Harper added a three in the final seconds for KU's third bucket in the last 11 minutes of the game and West Virginia prevailed by 10.
Kansas continues a daunting start to the Big 12 Conference slate when the Jayhawks travel to Waco, Texas, for a tilt against top-10 foe Baylor on Sunday at 3 p.m. That game will be televised regionally on Fox Sports Net.
KANSAS STARTERS (SEASON/CAREER): Fr. Keyla Morgan (5/5), Sr. CeCe Harper (8/29), Jr. Asia Boyd (10/10), Jr. Chelsea Gardner (12/41) and Jr. Natalie Knight (13/66)
Makes Kansas' all-time record to 764-539.
Moves the Jayhawks' all-time conference record to 231-237.
Makes KU's all-time Big 12 record 108-169 and 51-98 in conference play under head coach Bonnie Henrickson.
Gives West Virginia two-straight victories against the Jayhawks to narrow the all-time series lead to one, 3-2. The two teams met twice prior to the Mountaineers joining the Big 12 in the summer of 2012 and Kansas won the first three meetings in the series, before being defeated, 72-56, last season in Allen Fieldhouse.
Makes Henrickson's record to 165-141 at KU and 323-203 overall.
Makes the Jayhawks' all-time record in Allen Fieldhouse 396-153 and 119-53 at home under Henrickson.
Makes KU to 23-49 under Henrickson during the month of January.
Gives the Jayhawks their first loss of the season on a Thursday and makes their record 16-12 when playing on Thursday under Henrickson.
Trailing 13-3 with 15:14 left in the first half, the Jayhawks went on a 9-0 run to pull within one, 13-12, with 12:04 left in the half.
Down by five, 26-21, with 3:02 remaining, Kansas closed out the half with a 7-1 run to take its first lead of the game, 28-27, with three seconds remaining.
The KU defense held West Virginia to 27 points in the first half. The Mountaineers' previous low for a half was 28 against Hawaii (11/17/13).
Trailing by one, 41-40, with 13:50 left in the game, the Jayhawks reeled off six-straight to take a five-point lead, 46-41, with 11:45 remaining.
The Kansas defense held West Virginia to 34.9 percent shooting (22-for-63) for the game. The Jayhawks have held seven of their 13 opponents under 38 percent shooting this season.
KU was outrebounded for just the fourth time this season. The Jayhawks' 28 rebounds tied their season low, which was previously set against Duke (11/30/13).
Junior Asia Boyd knocked in three points the old-fashioned way with 11:47 left in the game. The Detroit, Mich., native finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds and two steals.
Freshman Jada Brown scored a season-best four points to top her previous high of three at Minnesota (11/20/13).
Junior Chelsea Gardner recorded 10 points to finish in double figures for the 12th time in 13 games this season. The DeSoto, Texas, native also added a season-high four blocked shots to bring her within four of 90 for her career and 10th on Kansas' all-time blocks list.
Junior Natalie Knight knocked in a season-high 15 points to lead Kansas' offense on the night. The Olathe, Kan., native's previous high in 2013-14 was 14, which she has scored twice this season, with the last time coming against Yale (12/29/13).