KU women tumble to TCU, 80-63

KU's guard Natalie Knight (42) fights off TCU's Jada Butts (15) as Knight goes up for two points.

It’s only been four games, so it might not quite be time to panic, but with third-ranked Baylor coming to Allen Fieldhouse on Saturday and the Kansas University women’s basketball team still searching for its first Big 12 Conference victory of the season, the Jayhawks are starting to feel the urgency.

“Our team right now just needs some positives,” said freshman point guard Lauren Aldridge following Wednesday’s 80-63 loss to TCU at Allen Fieldhouse.

For the second straight game, the Jayhawks struggled to take care of the basketball and watched it put them in a heck of a hole. KU (9-8 overall, 0-4 Big 12) turned it over 16 times in the first half, 22 times for the game and watched those miscues lead to 27 TCU points.

KU coach Bonnie Henrickson said the turnovers played right into TCU’s hands and allowed the Horned Frogs (11-4, 3-1) to push the tempo and get easy baskets at the rim.

“Twice we got picked one-on-one before the trap even came,” Henrickson said. “And then their defense led to easy offense.”

After trailing by a dozen at halftime, KU trimmed the lead to two with 13:10 to play after six consecutive points from senior forward Chelsea Gardner, who finished with 21 points and eight rebounds. The final bucket of that run came on a sweet feed from Aldridge in transition that fired up the home crowd and the Jayhawks on the floor. Unfortunately for the Jayhawks, TCU responded quickly and again led by a dozen just six minutes later.

“In the Big 12, you have to grind it out,” said Aldridge, sounding more like a seasoned veteran than a first-year player. “You have to focus every single possession. If you take a possession off, we break down. We just have to be more disciplined from a toughness standpoint.”

After opening the season winning seven of their first nine games, the Jayhawks have now lost six of their last eight and are searching for any way they can to get back on track.

“Losing in college feels a little bit different than losing in high school,” Aldridge said. “You just invest so much more, time-wise, and you have so many more people invested in you and so losing hurts a little bit worse.”

Seeing big, bad Baylor as the next team up on the schedule does not necessarily produce sounds of joy in the Jayhawks’ locker room. But Aldridge and Henrickson said this team would not shy away from the opportunity.

“Like any team in the Big 12, they are a challenge,” Aldridge said. “But I don’t think it’s anything where we should go into the game looking at who they were in the past. We need to work on X’s and O’s and get our turnovers figured out. Anything is possible in this league.”

As for Henrickson’s initial thoughts about playing Baylor with her team in desperate need of something positive?

“It doesn’t matter what I think,” the coach said. “It’s coming.”

Trapp memories

TCU coach Raegan Pebley closed her postgame comments with a tribute to former KU standout and Lawrence native Jennifer Trapp, who passed away in 1998 after starting for the Jayhawks for four years from 1994-97 and enjoying a stellar career at Lawrence High.

“I still have bone bruises on my arms from battling against her,” said Pebley, who played at Colorado. “She was just such a fantastic player and person.”

Pebley said she had so much respect for Trapp and the KU tradition that she changed her WNBA number from 52 to 51 to honor Trapp and still keeps a No. 51 Trapp jersey in her home today.

After leaving KU, Trapp briefly played professionally in Finland and Luxembourg.

Happy return

Former KU player Donielle Breaux, who transferred to TCU and has started 36 games in three years for TCU after leaving Lawrence, finished with seven points and six rebounds in 34 minutes.

Pebley said the team paid no extra attention to Breaux’s return to the place she started her college career and, instead, focused on preparing to get off to a great start.

“We don’t try to make any game about one person,” Pebley said. “(Donielle) just wants to win every game no matter who it’s against.”

TCU (80)

MIN FG FT REB PF TP

m-a m-a o-t

Zahna Medley 32 8-13 5-7 0-1 0 21

Veja Hamilton 35 9-14 2-2 4-8 1 20

Chelsea Prince 30 8-16 0-0 1-2 3 19

Natalie Ventress 34 3-10 0-0 0-2 0 8

Donielle Breaux 34 3-10 0-0 1-6 2 7

Caitlin Diaz 23 2-2 0-0 1-5 2 5

AJ Alix 5 0-1 0-0 1-1 1 0

Jada Butts 14 0-3 0-0 3-4 1 0

Kiara Bradshaw 3 0-0 0-0 0-1 1 0

Sydney Coleman 1 0-0 0-0 0-1 0 0

team 2-2

Totals 33-69 7-9 13-33 11 80

Three-point goals: 7-24 (Prince 3-7, Ventress 2-6, Diaz 1-1, Breaux 1-6, Alix 0-1, Butts 0-1, Medley 0-2). Assists: 16 (Medley 11, Prince 2, Hamilton, Ventress, Breaux). Turnovers: 10 (Medley 2, Prince 2, Ventress 2, Alix 2, Hamilton, Coleman). Blocked shots: 4 (Ventress 2, Prince, Butts). Steals: 14 (Prince 4, Ventress 4, Breaux 2, Butts 2, Medley, Hamilton).

KANSAS (63)

MIN FG FT REB PF TP

m-a m-a o-t

Natalie Knight 30 6-10 3-4 0-7 2 17

Chayla Cheadle 31 3-12 0-0 0-0 4 8

C. Manning-Allen 10 2-4 0-0 1-4 0 4

Lauren Aldridge 40 1-4 0-0 0-3 0 3

Jada Brown 23 1-2 0-0 2-3 1 2

Chelsea Gardner 28 10-13 1-1 3-8 2 21

Asia Boyd 25 2-6 1-2 3-5 5 6

Terriell Bradley 11 1-4 0-0 0-1 2 2

Bunny Williams 2 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0

team 1-3

Totals 26-55 5-7 10-34 14 63

Three-point goals: 6-18 (Knight 2-5, Cheadle 2-6, Aldridge 1-3, Boyd 1-3, Bradley 0-1). Assists: 17 (Knight 6, Aldridge 6, Cheadle 3, Boyd, Bradley). Turnovers: 22 (Knight 4, Aldridge 4, Gardner 4, Brown 3, Cheadle 2, Manning-Allen 2, Boyd, Bradley, team). Blocked shots: 4 (Gardner 3, Williams). Steals: 3 (Aldridge, Boyd, Bradley).

TCU 38 42 — 80

Kansas 26 37 — 63

Officials: Beverly Roberts, Amy Bonner, Maj Forsberg. Attendance: 1,884.

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