(San Jose, Calif.) – The Kansas City women’s basketball team (4-8) used a strong second half effort to overcome an 11-point second half deficit to take a one-point lead late in the game, but could not hold on as San Jose State (6-5) knocked off the ‘Roos 81-76 on Saturday afternoon at the Event Center.
“On the road, you can’t spot a team a big lead and expect to pull it out,” Head Coach Marsha Frese said. “We locked into the scouting report in the second half and made our run. Credit our team for battling back, but we have to be better at following the game plan from the tip.”
Senior Eilise O'Connor and Kim Nezianya led the ‘Roos with 19 points each, while freshman Calli White and Grace Mitchell added 11 and 10 points, respectively. On the glass, sophomore Taylor Leathers collected a season-high 10 rebounds for UMKC.
“It was my main job to get in there and get boards,” Leathers said. “Even when I didn’t think I had a good chance of getting one, I tried to get in there and mix it up and get tips. Coach talked a lot about executing the game plan, especially attacking the basket and try to get to the free throw line. We need to continue to keep learning and do a better job of executing our game plan.”
The ‘Roos scored the game’s first points, but San Jose State quickly took the lead and built a nine point advantage with 4:30 on the clock in the first half.
UMKC whittled the lead down to three after two Leather’s free throws and a three from Kelsey Barnwell, but SJSU closed the half with back-to-back threes to take a 44-35 lead into halftime.
Coming out of the break, the Spartans struck first, pushing the lead to a game-high 11, but a three from Nezianya and a layup by White brought the ‘Roos to within six.
San Jose State again stretched the lead to nine at 52-43 with 14:18 on the clock, before a 7-0 run by the ‘Roos behind two O’Connor baskets and a White three cut the lead to 52-50.
UMKC continued to trim the lead, four times bringing it to one, before finally taking the lead when Nezianya drilled a three to put the ‘Roos up 70-69 with 3:47 left to play.
San Jose State answered with the next four points, but O’Connor again countered for the ‘Roos, connecting in the lane and cutting the lead back to one.
The two teams went back and forth on the next two possessions with Kansas City getting a pair of free throws from both Nezianya and O’Connor during the stretch to keep the lead at one with just over a minute left to play.
On the ensuing Spartan possession, SJSU connected underneath, while the ‘Roos came up empty on the other end, giving San Jose State the ball with a three point lead and 39 second on the clock.
The ‘Roos chose not to foul and held the Spartans until one second on the shot clock when they converted on a layup to build a five point lead.
Barnwell would miss a runner on the other end for the ‘Roos and San Jose State came away with an 81-76 victory.
As a team, UMCK limited San Jose State to just 16.7 percent (5-30) from three-point range, including 0-12 in the second half, while knocking down 38.9 percent (7-18) themselves.
“I am excited where we are headed with one nonconference game left,” Frese added. “We’ve picked up some momentum heading into conference play, but we have to keep learning from each game, win or lose.”
The Blue & Gold will be back in action again after Christmas when they return to Kansas City to face former Summit League foe Western Illinois on Sunday, Dec. 29 at the Swinney Recreation Center.