KANSAS-Despite taking a pair of completely divergent paths Tuesday night at J.O. Jones Field House, both the Lady Comets and the Kansas boys came away with big victories over a pair of scrappy squads from Keys.
In the ladies' contest, Kansas jumped to a huge opening quarter lead and allowed their guests to get within single digits just once before rolling to a 60-41 walloping of the eighth-rated Lady Cougars. The boys' game, however, was a nip and tuck thriller that featured a dozen lead changes and an overtime session before the outcome was decided.
In the evening's opener, Lady Comet Kelsey Barnwell, with 10 of her game-high 25 points, 3 steals and 3 boards, anchored an offensive and defensive onslaught in the game's first period from which Keys would never recover.
Courtney Cowan, Ty Sizer, Heather Marshall and Maria Perez joined in the first quarter scoring spree with three points apiece. And while the Kansas offense scored 26, their defense forced a dozen turnovers and allowed only five Lady Cougar points.
Leading by 21, the Lady Comets (2-0) appeared to have lost some of their previous focus and turned the ball over seven times in the next stanza. Putting up eight shots from the floor, Kansas only converted on a Keely Kerns's three-pointer. But while they struggled from the field, they were deadly from the free throw line. Barnwell converted all six of her attempts and Marshall went two-of-two, accounting for the remainder of the team's 11-point second. A quartet of Lady Cougars teamed up to put together their most productive period of the night to go into the dressing room trailing 37-20.
Kansas stayed in a shooting slump following the break, managing five more from Barnwell and a deuce each by Cowan and Sizer for nine in the third quarter. But thanks to three more steals by Cowan, the Lady Cougars had to scramble just to score 11.
Early in the final frame Keys (0-1) got a pair of treys from Mylee Hewitt to get within nine, 46-37. The Lady Cougars' rally was short lived, however, as the Lady Comets, fueled by Cowan's six and four more by Barnwell, went on a 14-4 run to end the game on top by 19.
In the nightcap, the Comets did what everyone expected of a Dale Akins basketball team; they practiced pretty good shot selection, played aggressive defense and they shot well from the free throw line. Ultimately, those three qualities, or the lack thereof, were what proved to be Keys's downfall.
In the opening 12 minutes the two teams went toe to toe, with the lead either changing or tied on every successful shot. Shooting 5-of-12 form the floor as a team, the Cougars' Trevor Eubanks scored four of his team's opening quarter 11.
Kansas 's Brody Kendrick threw down a pair of buckets to go with a Johnny Lewis trey and two points each from Logan Blaine and Corey Cowan for an 11-all tie.
In the next period both squads struggled with turnovers and shooting. The Comets (1-1) missed on their first half dozen field goal tries and scraped together just five points in the second.
The visitors missed their opportunity to put much distance between them and Kansas, converting on only 3-of-11 tries from the field and 0-for-3 from the foul line to score six points.
Leading by one to start the second half, Keys (0-1) came out of the break determined to push the game's tempo and put up 17 shots over the next eight minutes. But the Cougars only connected twice and got beat up by Cowen and Casey Armbrister on the boards.
Again, the visitors failed to take advantage of the Comets' foul situation and shot a tepid 4-of-10 free throws. Despite going 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, five Kansas players joined forces to shoot 5-of-10 from within, with a pair of free throws to retake the lead.
Lewis, Kendrick and Cowan jumpstarted the fourth with a bucket apiece that gave the Comets their largest lead of the game, 35-29 and forced a Keys timeout. But the Cougars scratched their way back in to the fray with a 10-4 run to the end of regulation.
Along the way, Cowan was whistled for his fifth foul on what appeared to be a clean tie ball. But even with the loss of their senior stalwart, Kansas stayed their course. Blaine gave his team their first lead in the extra session with a field goal.
Following a Eubanks trey, things got more contentious with each trip down the court. Neither team was able to convert another shot from the floor, making it apparent that the game was going to be decided from the foul line. And that was where the Comets excelled. While the visitors shot 2-of-8 from the stripe, Blaine nailed 5-of-6 to lead Kansas to the hard fought 47-44 victory.
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