Big 12 Basketball

Kansas Beats Columbia To Win First WNIT Title

Kansas guard Zakiyah Franklin.

Kansas defeated Columbia, 66-59, in the championship game of the Women’s NIT Tournament on Saturday at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Kan.

Kansas (25-11) made history with this WNIT run, finishing the month of March 7-1 and winning a game in April. Dating back to Feb. 26, the Jayhawks won nine of their last 10 games, with the only loss coming to TCU in the Big 12 Tournament, a loss that probably cost the Jayhawks an NCAA Tournament bid.

 

The 25 wins marked the sixth time in program history that Kansas won 25 or more games in a season. It was also Kansas’ 19th win at Allen Fieldhouse, a record for a single season.

Kansas had beaten its WNIT opponents by an average of 18 points going into the game with the Lions (28-6). So this represented the closest test of the WNIT for Kansas.

Columbia had a 16-15 lead after the first quarter. After that Kansas nudged ahead, 31-28, at halftime.

But a big third quarter put the Jayhawks in control, as they outscored the Lions, 18-11, to build a 10-point lead going into the final 10 minutes. While Columbia cut it to five points with 15 seconds left, the Lions were never able to get closer.

Kansas center Taiyanna Jackson had a lot to do with Kansas’ victory. She had her fifth double-double in six WNIT games, scoring 17 points and grabbing 21 rebounds. She also blocked three shots. Guard Zakiyah Franklin led the Jayhawks with 19 points. She also pitched in four assists and two steals.

Jackson was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player and Franklin made the All-Tournament team.

Guard Wyvette Mayberry scored 12 points, including three 3-pointers while guard Holly Kersgieter had seven points, five rebounds and three assists.

Kansas guard Chandler Prater nearly had a double-double, as she grabbed 11 rebounds to go with her nine points.

 

Abbey Hsu led Columbia with 19 points, while Kaitlyn Davis added 13 points.

The Jayhawks won their first WNIT title in seven tries and became the first Big 12 team to win the WNIT since Oklahoma State did it in 2012.

Kansas was playing in its second WNIT final, with the last coming in 2009, when the Jayhawks drew 16,113 fans to Allen Fieldhouse, a Big 12 record for a women’s game. Kansas lost to South Florida, 75-71.

You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard

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