A late push is all Kansas women’s basketball needed in its 76-66 victory over the Florida Gators in Allen Fieldhouse Sunday. The Jayhawks outscored Florida 42-29 over the final 15 and a half minutes to continue its unbeaten streak.
Sophomore guard Brooklyn Mitchell drove the Kansas offense, scoring 16 points and assisting on six baskets. She also finished with six rebounds in the contest.
Mitchell got the action rolling early. After a miss from Florida, Mitchell brought the ball up the court and drove right by her defender for an easy layup. That seemed to be the only basket the Gators were willing to give up.
Florida’s defense locked down all while the offense began to overpower the Jayhawks’ defense. Florida went up 8-2 midway through the quarter. The Gators forced four turnovers on Kansas in the quarter and refused to allow any easy looks at the rim.
Freshman guard Holly Kersgieter drew a foul after converting a basket and then made her and-one free throw to keep Kansas within striking distance. That seemed to be the mantra for Kansas the remainder of the quarter—draw a foul.
In total, the Jayhawks drew seven fouls in the quarter while committing zero fouls on the defensive end. Kansas went into the break trailing 10-14 despite seeming overwhelmed by the height and strength of the Gators.
The second quarter became a turnover fest from both sides. Neither team could gain momentum for the majority of the quarter due to both defenses forcing turnovers. There were 13 total turnovers in the quarter and teams struggled to make shots until Mitchell took over late in the quarter. Kansas was trailing 22-18 but Mitchell drove inside and found a wide-open Tina Stephens for an easy layup.
On the next possession, she found a spot wide-open from the outside and drained a three. Then, on the defensive end, she stole the ball and darted up the court for a fast-break layup. The swing put Kansas up 25-22, until immediately Florida responded with a three from Brylee Bartram.
The two teams went into halftime tied at 29 after Mitchell fouled Kiara Smith, who made both free throws, with 0.6 seconds left on the clock.
The two teams battled back and forth in through the third quarter. Florida took a 37-34 lead early but then the Jayhawk offense ignited.
Mitchell hit a jumper and on the next possession, Kersgieter drilled a corner three. Florida missed a layup and the Jayhawks went on a fast break, leading to a layup from Mitchell. The Gators tried to stop the momentum as Kristina Moore made a layup, but 30 seconds later, senior forward Mariane De Carvalho hit a three to push Kansas to a 44-39 lead.
Kansas went into the fourth quarter with a 52-47 lead and the height and strength of Florida was all but neutralized after the period.
The Jayhawks controlled the entirety of the fourth quarter as Florida tried to run hurry-up offense the majority of the quarter, which put itself in an even bigger hole.
Along with Mitchell’s 16, junior forward Tina Stephens had 16 followed by Kersgieter’s 14.
The Jayhawks will return to action on Sunday, Dec. 15 when St. Mary’s visits Allen Fieldhouse.