Women’s basketball lean on experience down the stretch in win over Kansas

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Kianna Ray finished with 10 points and four assists Sunday. Photo by Porter Burns

The best teams find their best players when they need them the most.

Facing a storming Kansas team who ended the third quarter on an 11-0 run and trailed by just three, TCU turned to senior Jordan Moore who reeled off the Horned Frogs first eight points of the fourth quarter, out-scoring the Jayhawks by six during that stretch.

Moore’s eight along with four straight free throws by Amy Okonkwo down the stretch would give the Horned Frogs a 58-53 victory Sunday.

Moore’s play on both ends was pivotal to the team’s victory. Photo by Porter Burns

It was the lowest points the team has scored in a victory all season, highlighting what head coach Raegan Pebley called an “uncharacteristic” offensive performance.

The Horned Frogs shot 42.2 percent from the field and made just two of their three-pointers.

More complicit in their offensive woes was the season-high 26 turnovers they committed, including 18 in the second half.

“That’s uncharacteristic of us but I know its characteristic of Kansas’s defense,” said Pebley. “We just didn’t have great flow.”

Lacking the offensive execution that usually guides them to victories, the team leaned on experience and size to hold off the Jayhawks late.

Moore would finish with 22 points and 10 rebounds, her third consecutive game with 20 points and second straight double-double.

“I wouldn’t really say its a zone,” Moore said of her recent performances. “I just do what I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to get rebounds, I’m supposed to score, I’m supposed to be where my teammates need me to be at all times and that’s what I did tonight.”

Eight of her 22 points came at the line, indicative of the Horned Frogs emphasis on getting the ball inside and drawing whistles.

Forty-seven of the team’s 58 points came from either inside the paint or at the free-throw line, a commitment to the game plan that resulted in the win.

The team scored 30 points from the paint Sunday, part of their gameplan to attack the Jayhawk defense. Photo by Porter Burns

“We did feel like we could look at some penetration and there were some seams we could try and expose and attack,” Pebley said.

Along with Moore’s fourth quarter offense, the team relied on a defense that attacked the ball all game long.

Jayde Woods led the way with four steals, including one off of a Kansas inbounds pass with 12 seconds left that gave TCU the ball back with just a one-point lead.

The Jayhawks would foul Okonkwo after the steal, allowing her to go to the line and sink two free throws to push the lead to three.

Okonkwo would return to the line and effectively end the game with two more free throws after another Kansas turnover with 10 seconds remaining.

The offense of Moore, defense of Woods and composure of Okonkwo all culminated in a gritty win that younger, more inexperienced Horned Frog teams may not have been able to pull off.

“Experience helps you so much in this conference,” Pebley said. “In the past, we’ve been one of the more youthful teams and I think their experience, as well as players like Kianna [Ray], has just helped us so much.”

The team will look to build on the confidence that comes with closing out a tight game as they head into the final stretch of their season.

With 10 games remaining, they stand at 14-5 overall with a 4-4 record in the Big 12.

They will get the chance to get over the .500 hump in conference play against Kansas State at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 30 in Manhattan, Kansas.