O'Connor Sets School Record As Hot Shooting 'Roos Take Down Mastodons
UMKC Athletics 1-19-2013
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(Kansas City, Mo.) - Junior Eilise O'Connor scored a career-high 34 points, including knocking down a school record 17-of-18 free throws, to lead the Kansas City women's basketball team (6-13, 2-4) to a 77-59 win over Summit League foe Fort Wayne (6-13, 2-5)  on Saturday afternoon at the Swinney Recreation Center.

"I had no idea about the school record for free throws, but that's a pretty cool achievement," O'Connor said.  "I'm just exponentially honored that my team trusts me to step up and the knock those free throws down.  Career-highs are fun accomplishments as well, but the most exhilarating feeling is getting a huge team win against a very solid IPFW team."

Offensively, the Kangaroos shot a season-high 63.9 percent from the field, including 57.1 percent from long range, and reached a new season-high with 77 points.

"This was a great team effort," Kansas City Head Coach Marsha Frese said.  "I was really proud of everybody; they knew what their role was and they stepped up and did it all at the same time."

O'Connor got the 'Roos started with the game's first points on two free throws and, after the 'Dons tied the game at four, capped at 12-0 run with a three-point play at the 13:46 mark.

Kansas City would go on to build its advantage to a first half-high 17 when freshman Kelsey Barnwell buried a three before taking a 32-23 lead into halftime.

Coming out of the break, Fort Wayne cut the lead to eight, but 15 of the next 22 went to the 'Roos, including nine from O'Connor, stretching the margin to 16 with 14:23 left to play.

The Mastodons would make one final run at the Kangaroos, cutting the advantage to 52-44 with just under six minutes remaining, but the 'Roos connected on 16 free throws down the stretch, including 12 by O'Connor, to take their second Summit League win of the season.

O'Connor added a team-high seven rebounds in the win, while senior Emile Blakesley registered 12 points and a career-high four steals.

Junior Ashli Hill was the final 'Roo in double figures, finishing with 11 points, while fellow junior Hailey Houser added seven points and a team-high seven rebounds.

Barnwell, meanwhile, chipped in eight points, going a perfect 3-for-3 from the field and 2-for-2 from three-point range.

As a team, the 'Roos out-rebounded the Mastodons 28-21 and out-scored them off the bench, 19-3.

"It's a mindset and a level of consistency that the team keeps trying to achieve," Frese continued.  "They need to know that it is within them every single night and they can reach it. I want them to focus and continue to bring it every single night because they know what needs to happen."

"Today's win was a tremendous team effort," O'Connor added.  "Top to bottom, everyone contributed and brought energy.  No doubt, it felt different than our last game where we were a step slow and a little lagging.  I wouldn't doubt that everyone in the gym could feel the electricity we collectively had.  If we keep this up, great things await."

The Blue & Gold will be back in action again on Thursday when they head to Indianapolis to take on IUPUI in a Summit League showdown at 6 p.m. CT in The Jungle.

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