LUBBOCK, Texas – The Texas Tech Lady Raiders dropped a final possession heartbreaker to the red-hot Kansas Jayhawks, falling 71-68 Saturday afternoon at United Supermarkets Arena.
The game started well for Texas Tech (10-15, 3-11 Big 12), as Vivian Gray’s 18 first half points propelled her team to a 38-25 halftime lead.
In third quarter, Kansas (19-5, 10-4 Big 12) scored 15 of the first 19 points to draw to within 42-40 with 4:28 to play.
A Bryn Gerlich jumper gave the Lady Raiders a 44-40 lead with 2:47 to play in the period, but KU closed the quarter with an Aniya Thomas 3-pointer that gave the visitors their first lead, at 49-47.
In the fourth, KU used five quick points to take a game-high 56-47 lead, before Gray sparked a 10-2 run that gave the Lady Raiders a 59-58 lead with 2:27 to play.
After Holly Kersgieter hit a pair from the line to give KU the lead back, Rhyle McKinney nailed her second 3-pointer to give the Lady Raiders a 62-60 lead with 1:54 remaining.
The next five points went the way of KU, giving the visitors a 65-62 lead with 1:17 left.
On the ensuing Tech possession, Lexy Hightower nailed a triple that tied the game at 65 with 69 seconds to play.
With possession of the basketball, Kansas used a layup from Ioanna Chatzileonti to go back on top 67-65 with 46 seconds left.
A Gray and-one gave Tech its final lead of the game at 68-67 with 34 seconds left.
Following a Jayhawk timeout, Kersgieter hit her lone field goal of the ballgame, a driving layup with 24 seconds left.
On the next Tech possession, the Lady Raiders got the ball into the hands of Gray, but her driving layup with three seconds left was blocked. KU got the rebound and sealed the game with a pair of free throws from Kersgieter.
In the end, four Lady Raiders finished in double figures, led by Gray who finished with 23 points, four assists and three steals.
Hightower scored 13 points and had seven rebounds, while Gerlich finished with 10 points and four rebounds.
McKinney was the fourth Lady Raider in double-figures, as the SMU transfer scored 10 of her 11 points in the second half.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
After Kansas hit three-of-four to take an early 6-5 lead with 7:56 to play, the Lady Raiders held KU to just 1-of-13 shooting the remainder of the first quarter.
Sparked by nine points from Gray, the Lady Raiders outscored KU 10-3 down the stretch, racing out to an early 15-9 lead after one.
In the second, Kansas scored three of the first four to cut the Tech lead to 17-12 with 8:48 to play.
An and-one from Hightower, and back-to-back triples from Gray and Gerlich capped an 11-2 run that gave the Lady Raiders a 26-14 lead with 7:32 to play in the half.
Kansas would score nine of the next 15 points to climb to within 32-23 with 2:41 left, but Tech closed the quarter on 6-2 run to lead 38-25 after 20 minutes.
After the two teams traded buckets out the break, a Jayhawk 3-pointer sparked a 6-0 run that cut the Lady Raider lead in half (40-33) with 6:30 to play in the third.
A Gerlich jumper increased Tech’s lead to 42-33 with 5:50 left in the period, but the Jayhawks scored 10 of the next 12 to get to within one, at 44-43 with 1:41 left.
McKinney’s first triple of the afternoon gave Tech a 47-43 lead with 86 seconds to play in the third, but back-to-back triples gave KU its first lead, 49-47, heading to the fourth.
In the fourth, Kansas scored the first seven points to a take a game-high 56-47 lead with 8:04 to play.
As they have all season, Tech continued to battle, using a Gray jumper and triple from Taylah Thomas to cut the KU lead to 56-52 with 4:48 left.
A pair of free throws from KU gave the visitors a 58-52 lead with 3:41 to play, before McKinney and Gerlich scored the next seven points. The run gave Tech its first lead of the fourth, 59-58, with 2:27 to play.
Kansas hopped back in front with a pair of free throws, but McKinney nailed a triple with 1:54 left that gave Tech a 62-60 lead.
After Zakiyah Franklin tied the game at 62-all with 1:37 to play, Kansas picked off an errant pass, and Thomas went coast-to-coast for an and-one layup that gave KU a 65-62 lead with 1:17 left.
Hightower’s three with 1:09 left tied the scored at 65, but the aforementioned layup by Chatzileonti put KU back in front, 68-67 with 46 second to play.
Out of a timeout, Gray’s and-one gave Tech its final lead of the game at 68-67 with 34 seconds to play.
But Kersgieter’s four key points combined with the block on Gray’s layup with four seconds to play, gave the visitors a big 71-68 come-from-behind victory.
INSIDE THE BOXSCORE:
• After outrebounding KU 30-17, Tech was out rebounded 22-8 in the second half.
• The Lady Raiders hit 10 3-pointers Saturday, as six different players hit from distance.
• Tech limited Kansas to 9-of-31 shooting (29 percent) in the first half, but the Jayhawks shot 15-of-27 (55.6 percent) in the second half.
• KU outscored Tech 24-9 in the third, and 46-30 in the second half.
• After scoring 36 points in the last two games, Thomas scored just three points Saturday.
• Hightower made all three of her attempts from the line. After not shooting a free throw attempt through the first 12 games of Big 12 play, she’s now 9-of-9 from the line the last two games.
COACH SPEAK (HC KRISTA GERLICH):
“That was a tough loss. Give Kansas credit, they’re doing a lot of things right, and are playing their best basketball of the season. They really have done a good job of securing their spot in the NCAA Tournament. [Kansas HC] Brandon Schneider and I are good friends and I’m really happy for him and what he’s doing with his program. But man, I feel like we really let one slip away, especially in the third quarter. We didn’t come out of the locker room well, despite us talking about it. We talked about how they were going to make some second half adjustments, we needed to get to shooters, and we needed to do a good job of taking care of the basketball. They had zero points off our turnovers in the first half and they ended up with 13 total for the game, all in the second half. I was hoping we had already learned how to clean that up from other losses that we’ve suffered. So, it’s really unfortunate that our kids had to take another loss for things we could control. Again, late in the game I felt we made some big shots and had an opportunity to win the game at the end which says a lot about our kids and how they continue to fight. But it’s just unfortunate that third quarter was just so dismal for us.”
The Lady Raiders return to action for the penultimate home game of the 2021-22 season, when the West Virginia Mountaineers make their annual trip to Lubbock. Tip-off from United Supermarkets Arena is set for 7 p.m.
Release provided by Andrew Stern Texas Tech Athletics