Cory Montgomery produced her 11th 20-point effort of the season with 20 points and nine rebounds, but Kansas came back from a double-digit second-half deficit for a 61-56 win over the Huskers in the opening round of the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship at the Cox Convention Center on Thursday.
Nebraska was eliminated from the tournament and moves to 15-15 on the season. Kansas improved to 18-12 with its fifth win in the last six games and advances to the second round to take on top-seeded Oklahoma at 11 a.m.
The Huskers will now await word on a possible Postseason WNIT bid, which will follow the announcement of the field of 64 teams during the NCAA Selection Show on Monday evening.
"I can't find fault in one part of the effort of any of my players," Nebraska Coach Connie Yori said. "Our players played really hard for 40 minutes and they did what we asked them to do. We forced Kansas to hit some tough shots over us, and they did that. Kansas has two exceptional offensive players who are big guards and they hit a lot of shots in the second half."
After trailing by seven points early in the first half, Nebraska responded to take a four-point halftime lead and built the lead to 11 points at 39-28 before the first media timeout in the second half.
But hot-shooting Kansas responded with five straight points in a one-minute stretch to cut the lead back to six points at 39-33 with 15:54 to play. Led by 24 points from junior guard Sade Morris and 22 points from junior guard Danielle McCray, the Jayhawks fought back to tie the game at 48 with just over eight minutes to play.
Morris got her 24 points on 12-of-19 shooting from the field, primarily on mid-range jumpers from the baseline or beyond the free throw line. McCray knocked down her 22 on 8-of-17 shooting, after opening the game just 2-for-7 in the first half. McCray hit 3-of-5 three-point attempts and also completed a pair of traditional three-point plays in the game.
After a timeout, Nebraska responded with back-to-back baskets from Montgomery and Yvonne Turner, who finished with 13 points and a season-high six steals. The Huskers maintained a lead until McCray knocked down her third three-pointer in a four-minute stretch to give KU its first lead of the second half at 57-55 with 4:40 left.
NU had a chance to tie the score or take a lead at the line over the next 1:30, but Turner and Dominique Kelley missed 3-of-4 free throw attempts. After McCray hit a front end of a 1-and-1 at the other end, Nebraska missed another opportunity to take the lead and Morris got a steal and a layup with just over two minutes left to push KU's edge to 59-56.
Morris found Krysten Boogaard in a late shot-clock situation with under a minute left to end the scoring at 61-56 and seal the victory for the Jayhawks.
Kansas finished the game at 52 percent (26-50) from the field, including 4-of-10 from three-point range. Nebraska, which dominated KU on the glass, 37-26, hit just 37.5 percent (21-56) of its shots and just 4-of-14 three-point attempts in the setback. NU owned a 15-3 edge on the offensive glass, but outscored KU just 9-6 in second-chance points. The Huskers outscored KU at the line, 10-5.
The Huskers carried a 32-28 lead into the locker room at halftime thanks to a big team effort and a surge down the stretch. NU trailed 12-5 after opening the game by hitting just 2-of-11 shots and missing its first seven three-point attempts. But the Huskers heated up with three consecutive three-pointers from Kaitlyn Burke, Kala Kuhlmann and Nicole Neals off the bench to tie the game at 20 with 7:09 remaining in the half.
A pair of Catheryn Redmon free throws gave NU the lead at 22-20, before four straight points from Turner, who finished the half with six points, two steals, two assists and two rebounds. Montgomery, who led Nebraska with 12 points and five rebounds in the opening 20 minutes, scored NU's last six points of the half to give the Huskers their biggest first-half lead at 32-26.
Morris, who led KU with 12 points and five boards in the first half, hit a leaner in the lane with five seconds left to trim the Husker advantage to four points at the break. Aishah Sutherland added six first-half points, while the Huskers held McCray to just five first-half points.
NU led at the half despite hitting just 13-of-34 field goal attempts and just 3-of-10 three-pointers, while KU knocked down 48 percent (12-25) of its shots, including 1-of-3 three-pointers. Both teams were 3-for-4 at the foul line.
Nebraska owned the glass in the first half with a 20-14 edge on the glass, including an 11-3 advantage on the offensive end. The Huskers were also plus-two in the turnover department (9-7).
Courtesy: Nebraska Media Relations