(Kansas City, Mo.) - The Kansas City women's basketball team fell in its Summit League opener 61-44 to Omaha on Friday night at the Swinney Recreation Center, despite holding a 26-21 halftime lead over the first year Summit League member.
The loss is the Kangaroos' sixth straight and drops them to 4-10 overall and 0-1 in league play, while Omaha improves to 9-2 overall and 1-0 in the league.
In the loss, freshman Taylor Leathers had the best game of her young career with career-highs of 10 points and 12 rebounds while filling in for senior forward Kim Nezianya, who has missed the 'Roos last seven contest.
"I have big shoes to fill with Kim out," Leathers said. "She was our top rebounder and with her out I have to step up. Even though I am undersized and not quite as athletic as some of our opponents, I can use my intelligence and positioning to get the rebounds. If I do my work early and work hard once the shot goes up, I will have a good shot at the ball."
In the game, UMKC jumped out to an early 6-0 lead after senior Emile Blakesley buried a three, but seven straight by Omaha gave the visitors their first lead of the contest.
The Mavericks would build their lead to a first half high of five at 17-12, but a 9-0 run by the 'Roos featuring six points from Lee and a three by Leathers over the final 3:39 of the first half sent Kansas City to the locker room with a 26-21 halftime lead.
Coming out of the break, the Mavs quickly regained control of the contest, scoring the first 10 points of the second half to move in front 31-26.
The 'Roos would pull to within three on their following two possessions, but would get no closer as Omaha stretched its lead to a game-high 19 twice before taking the 61-44 victory.
Defensively, Kansas City held the Mavericks to just 34.8 percent shooting from the field, while swatting six shots, including three from junior Ashli Hill.
"If we stick together and stay on the same page, we will be alright," Leathers added. "We need to make sure we are bettering ourselves every day in order to better the team and remember that there are still a lot of games left to play."
The Blue & Gold will be back in action after the New Year when they head to Brookings, S.D., for a rematch of last season's Summit League Championships when they face South Dakota State at 7:00 p.m.