(San Francisco, Calif.) – The Kansas City women’s basketball team won its fourth game out of its last five and its second straight overtime contest, outscoring San Francisco 14-6 in the overtime period to take a 70-62 win on Wednesday night at War Memorial Gymnasium.
“It was an absolute humbling experience to see so many people come out and support me and my team,” senior and San Francisco native Eilise O'Connor said. “I couldn’t have written a better ending to tonight’s game and can’t give enough credit to my coaches and teammates for giving me the homecoming of a lifetime.”
O’Connor led the ‘Roos, scoring a season-high 30 points in front of over 50 family and friends, while classmate Kim Nezianya added 11 points and 10 rebounds for her fourth double-double of the season, scoring her 1,000th career point in the process.
“It was a really special night for Eilise and Kim,” Head Coach Marsha Frese said. “It’s fitting that they both put us on their backs and were the reason we won this game tonight. As a coach, it’s really special to have an opportunity to do this for your seniors and even more special when we can come out with a win.”
“It feels great to be in the same category as some of the greatest players to play at UMKC,” Nezianya said of scoring her 1,000th career point. “Today, though, was all about getting the win.”
In the opening half, the ‘Roos jumped out to an 8-0 cushion, holding USF scoreless over the first 5:05 of the game before the Dons answered with seven straight of their own to cut the lead to one, before eventually tying the score at 12.
Five straight from UMKC pushed the lead to five, but, after a jumper from USF and a Taylor Leathers three, San Francisco reeled off the next nine points giving them their first lead of the game at 25-20.
Kansas City, however, allowed just two points over the final 3:29 of the half, while scoring nine of their own to take a 29-27 lead into the locker room.
Coming out of the break, the ‘Roos extended their run to 16-2 with the first seven points of the half when freshman Calli White hit a three and O’Connor and Nezianya followed with jumpers.
The lead, however, was short-lived, as USF came back with nine straight to tie the game at 36 six minutes into the half.
The ‘Roos again stretched the lead to four, but the Dons would tie the game for the fourth time with four straight, knotting the square at 40 before taking their first lead of the half at 43-42.
The Dons stretched their advantage to four at 47-43, when it was the ‘Roos turn to go back in front with Kelsey Barnwell and O’Connor knocking down back-to-back jumpers before Barnwell hit a three from the right corner to give UMKC a three-point advantage.
USF ended the rally with a three to tie the game at 50 with 3:42 left in regulation, but two Barnwell free throws and an O’Connor jumper stretched the cushion to four.
Kansas City, though, would manage only a pair of O’Connor free throws over the final 2:24, while San Francisco’s Taylor Proctor knocked down a pair of threes to tie the game at 56 and send it to overtime.
In the overtime, White opened up the scoring by drilling a three and on the ensuing possession, O’Connor hit two free throws to extend the margin to five.
After a layup from the Dons, Leathers knocked down a baseline jumper and O’Connor added two more free throws, putting UMKC ahead 65-58 with just 1:50 left in overtime.
San Francisco would cut the lead to five on two more occasions, but UMKC added three free throws and a Barnwell layup down the stretch to secure the 70-62 victory.
“Early season games are a learning process, but at some point you have to step up and learn from the lessons you’ve been taught,” Frese added. “We showed tonight that we’ve done that and in late game situations we’re prepared and confident.”
The Blue & Gold will be back in action again on Saturday when they continue their swing through northern California as they take on San Jose State at 4 p.m. CT.
“After winning four of our last five, I’m ecstatic that we’re building momentum right before conference play starts,” O’Connor added. “The best part about it is that we are doing it as a team and playing together.”