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Contributing however she can

Senior Holly Kersgieter chips in from the bench while sitting out with an ankle injury in KU's win over BYU

3 min read
KU's Holly Kersgieter (right) joins freshman Mckenzie Smith and senior center Taiyanna Jackson (1) in cheering a basket by the Jayhawks' during Wednesday's win over BYU. Kersgieter missed the game with an ankle injury but still found a way to contribute from the bench. [Chance Parker photo]

No matter how the rest of the season plays out, Kansas super-senior Holly Kersgieter is down to a finite number of games remaining in her KU career.

That’s what made sitting out of Wednesday’s 67-53 home win over BYU more than a little tough to handle. You could see it on her face and feel it in the air. Her teammates said it was definitely weird not having her out there.

However, rather than sit and sulk and feel sorry for herself, Kersgieter did what she always does — tried to find a way to help her team win.

Decked out in black sweats and a black, long-sleeve shirt, Kersgieter spent most of the night at her spot on the bench near the baseline. She missed the game because of an ankle injury she suffered late in the Oklahoma game and is hoping to be back soon.

While she sat, she made sure to stay active, shifting from head in hands and watching with an intense stare to up off her feet, cheering for her teammates out on the floor.

“She mostly just hyped us up,” KU freshman S’Mya Nichols said of Kersgieter’s role on Wednesday night. “But, yeah, we did miss her on the court.”

While taking the her spot on the bench before tipoff, Kersgieter walked without a limp but looked a hair slow. That didn’t keep her from celebrating her team’s success against the Cougars.

After one transition layup by senior transfer Ryan Cobbins, who started in her place, Kersgieter hopped up gingerly to celebrate the bucket that put the Jayhawks up 28-23 early in the third quarter.

She also yelled things like, “Nice pass!” or “Yeah, Cobbo; Yeah Twin” after watching her teammates fight for everything they got on both offense and defense.

Late in the third quarter, she stood and clapped her hands above her head with a huge smile on her face when junior center Danai Papadopoulou scored in the post to put the Jayhawks’ up by 14 points.

Because of KU’s game plan against the Cougars — throw it inside to Taiyanna Jackson as often as possible, over and over and over again — the BYU game was as good as any for KU’s all-time leading 3-point shooter to miss. After all, there probably won’t going to be a ton of 3-point looks anyway.

As a team, KU shot just 1-of-13 from behind the 3-point line on Wednesday night, with Wyvette Mayberry recording the only make and reserve Laia Conesa, who played 13 minutes in Kersgieter’s absence missing all five triples she attempted.

After one of them, Kersgieter approached Conese during the timeout that followed and shared a few words with her.

“It was weird to not have her playing,” senior Zakiyah Franklin said after the win. “But she’s a vet, and she was like talking to us and telling us where to be and stuff like that. She was mostly just encouraging us.”

Outside of her 3-point prowess — Kersgieter is shooting 42.2% from downtown this season — there was one other area where Nichols said the Jayhawks missed Kersgieter.

“She’s like our second best rebounder (4.9 per game), so we were really emphasizing trying to rebound with Holly out,” Nichols said. “It felt weird not seeing her fly by my face to get the rebound.”

There was no timeline given for Kersgieter’s return, but no matter when she’s able to get back on the court, you can bet she’ll continue to find ways to help this team through her stats and scoring or experience and screams.

KU (11-10 overall, 4-6 Big 12) travels to TCU on Saturday for a 6 p.m. tipoff against the Horned Frogs (15-5, 2-7).

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