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Jayhawks Outlast Wolverines to Advance in NCAA Tournament


LOS ANGELES, Calif. ( – Zakiyah Franklin hit a three-pointer with 12 seconds remaining in regulation to force overtime and eventually lift No. 8-seeded Kansas to an 81-72 win over No. 9 Michigan in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at the Galen Center.


Trailing 67-64, the Jayhawks called a 30-second timeout after forcing a clock violation on the Wolverines. Franklin then stepped up and hit a 3-pointer to knot the game at 67. The Jayhawks then got a defensive stop on the next possession to force the extra session.

There, the Jayhawks dominated. Kansas outscored Michigan by nine in the extra frame to earn their second first-round victory in the last three years. Kansas will now face the winner of No. 1 USC and No. 16 Texas A&M Corpus-Christi on Monday with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16. The win marked the 20th of the season for Kansas, who improved to 20-12, while Michigan completed its season at 20-14.

Once in overtime, Kansas outscored Michigan 14-5. Kansas never trailed in the extra session and Taiyanna Jackson and Holly Kersgieter scored the first five points and the Jayhawks held off the Wolverines to advance.

Franklin led Kansas with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists. S’Mya Nichols and Wyvette Mayberry each finished with 15 points, while Jackson added 14. Kersgieter had nine points and team-high nine rebounds.

“Give Michigan a lot of credit. I thought they were by far the best team for three quarters,” Kansas coach Brandon Schneider said after the game. “But I couldn’t be prouder of our team’s resilience. They never fragmented. They just stayed the course and obviously made some really, really big plays offensively that were preceded by key stop after key stop. We made a lot of big threes tonight, but none bigger than fifth year senior Zakiyah Franklin. I couldn’t be prouder of her.”

Kansas’ record improves to 20-12 on the season, while Michigan falls to 20-14 to end its year. This is the third-consecutive 20-win season for the Jayhawks and the 24th in program history.

It was a slow start for both teams as it took over two minutes for both the Jayhawks and Wolverines to get on the scoreboard. Michigan scored first, but the next two Kansas possessions resulted in points as Zakiyah Franklin hit a three-pointer and Holly Kersgieter scored on a driving layup for a 5-2 lead.

KU’s three-point margin would be the largest lead for either team in the first quarter. Michigan used a 4-0 run to regain the lead and the Wolverines held an 11-10 advantage following a low-scoring first quarter, despite seven points from Franklin.

Wyvette Mayberry scored eight points to open up the second quarter, hitting two three-pointers and a layup to help KU regain the lead. S’Mya Nichols got on the board with a traditional three-point play and Ryan Cobbins connected on her own three, which gave KU a 24-18 lead.

Michigan answered with an 8-0 run to regain the lead. Franklin halted their momentum with another bucket and Cobbins hit her second three of the game, which sent the Jayhawks into the locker room trailing 32-29.

The first half featured four ties and six lead changes, with neither team leading by more than six points.

The third frame opened with teams trading baskets as Michigan held onto a 41-39 lead at the media break. Franklin scored six points and Mayberry added her own bucket as both Jayhawks entered double-digit scoring just five minutes into the second half.

Kansas was held scoreless for nearly three minutes as Michigan took advantage of a 5-0 run, forcing the Jayhawks to call a timeout down at 46-39. Kersigeter knocked down her first three of the game out of the break to shorten the deficit to four points. The Wolverines finished the quarter on a 7-2 run to widen their lead to nine as the Kansas trailed 53-44 heading into the final frame.

A huge fourth quarter comeback saved the season as KU outscored UM 23-14 to force overtime.

The final frame began as Nichols quickly found her way to the rim on the first possession of the fourth quarter and Kersgieter soon followed after forcing a steal and taking it all the way for a fast break layup as Franklin finished a highly contested layup for her 17th point of the contest.

A 9-2 Jayhawk including a Jackson layup and capped off by Mayberry’s third three brought the game within three as the Wolverines had a 62-59 edge with less than four minutes to play.

Franklin hit a legendary all-time shot from behind the arc with 17.4 seconds left to play to tie up the game at 67-67 all for her 20th point of the game. A possession of stifling Kansas defense resulted in a missed Wolverine three point attempt to force overtime for the first time this season.

Overtime kicked off with a 5-0 Jayhawk run behind a Jackson layup and free throw and a Kersgieter layup to give KU its first lead since the second quarter. Nichols paved her way to the paint as the shot clock ticked down to single digits and finished the layup while drawing the foul and completed her second and-1 opportunity of the night as KU’s advantage extended to 78-72 with 25.5 seconds left to play. Nichols knocked down four free throws to ice the 81-72 overtime victory.

Next Up
Kansas advances to face the winner of (1) USC and (16) Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Monday, March 25.