A-State (3-4) got within two points twice in the second half, but the Jayhawks responded each time with a pair of runs to push the lead to double-digits. Aundrea Gamble scored a game-high 20 points and added seven rebounds to along with three steals and an assist. Jasmine Hunt finished with 10 points on 5-of-9 shooting and grabbed four rebounds.
Kansas, which upped its record to 8-3 overall this season, was paced by Chayla Cheadle's 19 points on 6-of-12 shooting. Natalie Knight added 15 points and 13 rebounds to finish as the only other Jayhawk in double figures.
“The outcome was disappointing but I thought the performance was very good on our part,” A-State head coach Brian Boyer said. “We've been a little up and down on our performance of late and I thought we were on point and very focused on what we had to do defensively, but in the end give Kansas credit because they played really well did what they needed to get the victory.”
Both teams kept the margin close throughout the first 20 minutes with the score tied three times and the lead only exchanging hands on one occasion at the 15:40 mark as Knight knocked down a 3-pointer to give Kansas an 8-5 edge. The hosts would not trail for the remainder of the game but A-State made numerous runs in the first and second halves to put themselves in position to take the lead.
Arkansas State opened the second half on a 6-2 run to get the score with 33-31 with just over 17 minutes left to go, but then the Red Wolves went cold from the field and suffered a five-plus minute scoring drought that allowed to Kansas to build a seven point edge at 38-31.
Gamble ended the drought with a layup and then converted on a 3-point play at the free throw line to close the deficit to 36-33 with 11:16 remaining, but the Jayhawks answered with an 11-2 run to get their lead to double digits for the first time on the afternoon at 49-38 with 7:45 to go. Cheadle helped ensure the Kansas victory with a four-point play before the final media timeout to push the advantage to 53-42 and A-State could not muster enough energy for a final push over the final few minutes of the contest.
“I have no issues with our effort and we talked about that a lot after the Ohio State game the other night,” Boyer said. “We gave ourselves a chance and that's all we could ask for. We had a big push at the end of the first half and then the second half we seemed to bounce around the four, five and six point deficit and just could never really make that push to tie it or get the lead.”
Arkansas State played sound defense throughout the night and limited the Jayhawks to their fourth lowest point total of the season. Preseason Big 12 All-Conference selection Chelsea Gardner was limited to just two points and two rebounds and battled foul trouble throughout at the game as the Red Wolves attacked her in the paint with guards and solid post play from Amanda Lawson and Hunt.
“Our focus with any post player is to attack them with our guards with a lot of ball pressure and I thought we did a very good job of that,” Boyer said. “It is a shame that we could not turn that into points on the offensive end and I'm not sure it was a big factor early on but I thought late in the game we were fatigued a little bit and it showed with some of the shot selection and our drives to the basket.”
In the first half A-State used an 8-0 run to tie the game at 21-21 with just over two minutes to go. Gamble scored six of the eight points during the run, including a 3-pointer that tied the game with 2:25 remaining in the period.
Gamble scored eight points in the first half and also collected five rebounds. The Red Wolves crashed the boards during the entire opening 20 minutes and went into the break with a 22-20 edge, including an 8-3 advantage on the offensive glass. Hanna Qedan and Lawson chipped in with four boards each, while Lawson also had seven points.
Arkansas State went 19-of-63 (30.2 percent) from the field, 2-of-11 (18.2 percent) from behind the three-point arc and 8-of-13 (61.5 percent) from the free throw line. Kansas shot 44.4 percent (24-of-54) from the floor and knocked down 6-of-16 (37.5 percent) shots from beyond the arc. The Red Wolves held a 22-20 edge on the board going into halftime, but the Jayhawks put an emphasis on crashing the glass in the final 20 minutes and finished with a 46-36 advantage in the category.
The Red Wolves continue their four-game road swing at Kent State on Dec. 17 and will wrap up the trip Dec. 19 at Missouri State. The Kent State game is set to tip-off at 6 p.m. (CT) while the matchup with the Bears will start at 7:05 p.m. (CT). Both games can be heard for free in the StateZone at