Somebody or some bodies would have to do it. Two years ago departed Lady Blues All-American Jennifer Harris put up 21 on the Kansas Jayhawks for a come-from-behind 62-59 win.
This year a number of veterans stepped up and took shots, but it seems fitting that Lady Blue newcomer Corky Stiger, who transferred from the same community college as Harris, Trinity Valley Community College, took her fair share of the scoring load in the Lady Blues last minute defeat to the Jayhawks 62-68.
“It was great,” said Stiger. “I look up to Jen, she’s a great player. But I’m just going to try and help fill her shoes with the rest of the team. She was more of a scorer, but I just try to help out in every way I can.”
The Lady Blues definitely needed help. After controlling the game for the majority of the first half and early in the second, garnering a nine point lead at one point, the Jayhawks started to battle their way back. The Jayhawks, who would travel to the free-throw line 28 times throughout the game, tied it with a free throw from forward Marija Zinic with 9:31 remaining in the game.
“They picked up the pressure on the defensive side of the ball, but we should be able to handle that,” said Jessica Aebi, senior guard. “3-pointers are our shots but you can’t always rely on them to go in. We need to pound it in the post and get some easy 2-pointers too. So that was probably our problem in the second half.”
The Jayhawks dominated the paint getting 34 points and the Lady Blues just 16. The Jayhawks also won the battle of the boards by six, but head coach Ron McHenry says just because his team was outsized doesn’t mean it’s something that can’t be helped.
“We got beat in the boards. I know they’re bigger and more athletic, but we still need to block out and get the boards,” said McHenry. “There was a couple times the ball was up for grabs and we just couldn’t go get it. We need to work on more execution of the plays. But it’s still pretty early.”
The Jayhawks slowly extended their lead to four, but after a couple senior guard Cindy Keeley free throws and a huge 3-point play by Aebi, the Lady Blues tied it up 52-52 with 6:02 left in the game. The Jayhawks then scored six unanswered.
But the Lady Blues came battling back with a 3-pointer from junior new comer Karla Tailele, and two more Keeley free throws would bring them within one, 57-58 with 4:14 left. That was as close as the Lady Blues would get the rest of the game, finally bowing out to the Jayhawks 62-68.
“We have a lot of the people that can step up and score,” said Aebi. “It’s just going to be an overall team game for us this year.”
Stiger and Keeley lead the Lady Blues with 15 a piece but had seven different players share the scoring.
The mistakes and mental flaws that are bound to happen in your first exhibition game were more than apparent. The Lady Blues had 26 turnovers, and crucial ones, when the game was on the line.
“We had a lot of turnovers at the end,” said Stiger. “When we really needed to get down the floor, we struggled. They brought some pressure, I’ll give that to them. We just struggled and had a lot of new line ups, but we’ll get it.”