Clutch shooting from sophomore guard Aniya Thomas helped lift Kansas women’s basketball to victory over the Saint Mary’s Gaels Sunday, Dec. 15, and continue its perfect start to the season.
In the final 6:38 of the contest, Thomas proved to be a force both offensively and defensively, scoring eight points, assisting another basket, grabbing a steal and making huge plays off the ball in the final few possessions.
With 1:38 left in the game, the Gaels took a five-point lead after a layup from sophomore guard Sam Simons. Kansas took the ball up the court, and freshman guard Zakiyah Franklin took a three but missed the shot. However, much like she had done all day, sophomore guard Brooklyn Mitchell stepped up by getting an offensive rebound and kicked it out to Thomas.
Thomas proceeded to drill a triple to get the Jayhawks within two. Two possessions later, Thomas’ clutch gene appeared, and she once again hit a three that gave Kansas a three-point lead.
Her presence on the defensive end shined through late in the game as well. Thomas was a major part of the reason the Gaels rushed shots toward the end of the game.
Thomas was a big reason Kansas ended the game on a 12-2 run and won the game by five. Her fourth quarter was even more impressive coming after struggled through the majority of the first half.
Kansas women's basketball remains undefeated this season as the Jayhawks took down the St. Mary's Gaels 86-81 Sunday in Allen Fieldhouse.
Thomas entered the fourth quarter with five points on 1-of-5 shooting. Part of her inability to find rhythm was the impressive game from Mitchell, who finished as Kansas' leading scorer with 24 points. The Gaels also have guards who can play both the guard and forward positions, meaning Thomas spent most of her day being guarded by players much bigger than her.
Despite her offensive struggles throughout the majority of the game, she was still a force on defense. She tallied two steals in the contest and her ability to switch off players helped Kansas force 19 turnovers.
The Jayhawks finished the contest with 28 points off of turnovers, four of which were contributed by Thomas. Kansas also limited its turnovers, only turning the ball over on six possessions.
The 86-81 victory was Kansas’ ninth on the season. The Jayhawks will look to close non-conference play unbeaten as they have two more games before Big 12 play. Kansas will travel to St. Louis to take on the Saint Louis Billikens on Dec. 22. Tipoff is slated for 1 p.m.