LAWRENCE – Kansas women’s basketball began its 2018-19 campaign with a victory, as the Jayhawks dominated inside the paint in the 67-55 win over UMKC on Wednesday night inside Allen Fieldhouse.
Kansas finished the game with 54 percent of its points inside the lane and outscored UMKC, 36-20, in the paint. The Jayhawks were led by seniors Austin Richardson and Christalah Lyons, who tallied 14 and 13 points, respectively. Richardson grabbed a career-high 12 boards for her first double-double of the season. Lyons was also one of the key Jayhawk facilitators on the night, finishing with a team-best six assists.
Defensively, the Jayhawks held the Kangaroos to a mere 26.5 percent shooting from the field, which included going 5-20 from behind the three-point line. Sophomore Bailey Helgren recorded a career-high five blocks on the night, protecting the rim for the KU.
Kansas jumped out to an early 20-6 lead in the first quarter and never looked back. KU never trailed in the contest and led by as many as 20 points. A second-half surge by the ‘Roos closed the gap, but the Jayhawks fought off the comeback to seal the season-opening victory with their stifling defense.
Head coach Brandon Schneider
“I appreciate the fans support tonight. I thought we gave them a pretty good first half. (I was) Disappointed how we played in the second half and really disappointed on how we played on the defensive glass. Getting outrebounded like that is something that we are not very proud of and we need to work really hard to get that right.”
On defensive success:
“We tried to make them take contested shots. Baily (Helgren) in particular did a really nice job with post defense and challenging shots. Their players missed some.”
On Austin Richardson and Helgren’s work on the boards:
“I thought Austin got some key ones in the fourth quarter, and Bailey, it is great to see positive things for her because she is a kid that has worked really hard and has really improved.”
Sophomore Center Bailey Helgren
On her career night:
“I think it’s all a mindset and the four and five, we work together so once one gets going, the other gets going, so I think that’s kind of what happened tonight.”
On Austin Richardson’s performance:
“I think she’s one person that we can rely on to hit shots at all three levels and get us going. She’s done a really good job this year leading us.”
On KU’s defense:
“I think defense is one of our main focuses. Every practice we rep and scout, so I think that’s a huge emphasis for us in following our scout and executing.”
On her personal defensive game:
“It’s my role on this team to protect the rim and rotate. I think this year, I’m more confident and have my timing down better, which has helped me.”
Senior Guard Kylee Kopatich
On Austin Richardson’s performance:
“I expect her to continue getting offensive rebounds because she goes crazy on those and we love that. Just to do what she does best and that’s to hit those short jumpers and continue to rebound because she’s great at both.”
- KU improves to 40-11 all-time in season openers with a 67-55 win over UMKC.
- Kansas’ defense held the ‘Roos to shooting just 15.6 percent (5-of-32) from the floor in the first half and 26.5 percent (18-of-68) for the game.
- Senior guard Kylee Kopatich’s eight points tonight put her 13 points away from becoming the 29th Jayhawk to score 1,000 career points.
- Freshman center Bailey Helgren notched career-high marks in both rebounds and blocks, grabbing nine rebounds and swatting away five shots.
- Senior forward Austin Richardson led the Jayhawks with 14 points while grabbing a career-high 12 rebounds.
- Three Jayhawks notched double-figure scoring including Richardson, senior guard Christalah Lyons, and senior guard Brianna Osorio.
Kansas continues its five-game homestand against Oral Roberts on Tuesday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. inside Allen Fieldhouse. Fans can watch all of the action on the Jayhawk Television Network/ESPN+ or listen on the Jayhawk Radio Network.