The Kansas women’s basketball team hit the magic 20-victory mark with a 71-45 victory over Colorado in the opening round of the Big 12 women’s tournament on Tuesday at Municipal Auditorium.
No. 21 is going to be a whole lot tougher.
The eighth-seeded Jayhawks, 20-11, will face top-seeded Baylor, 28-2, the No. 3 team in the nation. And none of the Jayhawks will soon forget the embarrassment of a 76-37 loss to the Bears on Jan. 19 in Lawrence. It tied for the fourth-worst loss in program history.
“We’re ready for this game,” said Kansas’ all-Big 12 forward Carolyn Davis, who scored 16 against Colorado despite playing just 29 minutes because of foul trouble. “The first game, we don’t think we competed our best. We didn’t execute or do any of the things we planned to do.”
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The Jayhawks can’t deny they were somewhat intimidated against the Brittany Griner-led Bears.
“It’s kind of hard not to,” coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “I thought our mentality was fine we’re shocked that we didn’t have a pulse just shocked and embarrassed, to be quite honest. Not to take anything away from Baylor, because they can do that to you because they’re that talented.
“But when someone starts to punch you, you can’t put your hands in your pocket. but we remember what that felt like in the locker room. We just rolled over and let that happen.”
The Jayhawks took Colorado’s best shots early in Tuesday’s game before dispatching the Buffaloes, 15-15, out the door and on to the Pac-10 Conference.
It was a game of two runs.
The Jayhawks, led by Engleman’s eight of her team-high 17 points, broke open a tight first half with a 13-0 run that produced a 29-16 lead with 2:57 to play in the first half.
Colorado, led by Brittany Spears’ 21 points, got to within 31-29 with 17:04 before Engleman and Davis sparked a 16-0 run that put the game away. The Buffaloes went nearly 8 minutes without scoring.
Much of the damage was done after Davis picked up her first three fouls in less than a minute in the second half while defending Spears, whose performance made her Colorado’s all-time leading scorer with 2,075 points.
“You’ve got to be prepared for situations like that,” Engleman said of playing without Davis. “You’ve got to find different ways “
Then, Henrickson interrupted saying with some sarcasm, “We’ve practiced that a little bit on the road with Carolyn out so we had plenty of practice.”
This is just the second time Kansas has won 20 games in Henrickson’s eight seasons. It couldn’t have happened at a better time considering she has yet to take Kansas to the NCAA Tournament and Kansas has a new athletic director in Sheahon Zenger. In 2008-09, Kansas finished 22-14 and took second in the WNIT, the Jayhawks’ likely postseason destination this year.
Henrickson, who has two more years left on her contract, only wishes the Jayhawks had hit the 20-win mark earlier this year.
“If you’re in basketball, it’s 20 wins, and that’s important, and the kids are proud of that.
"We’re at times pretty good, and we’re 4-1 in overtime and have had about eight one-possession games. When we’re aggressive we win, and when we’re hesitant and tentative we don’t.
“It’s hard for me to go on and on about (20 wins), because we hoped we had that maybe a month ago and not necessarily had to wait until March.”