Jayhawks basketball season concludes after Kansas women fall to USC in Round of 32

The KU women's team lost to USC, ending the 2023-24 basketball season.
Mar 25, 2024; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans center Rayah Marshall (13) steals the ball away
Mar 25, 2024; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USC Trojans center Rayah Marshall (13) steals the ball away / Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

The Kansas Jayhawks women's basketball team defeated Michigan in an overtime thriller over the weekend, but they did not have enough gas in the tank to overcome top-seeded USC in the Round of 32. The Trojans defeated KU 73-55 last night to end the season.

Kansas entered the season at No. 3 in the preseason Big 12 poll and had high expectations. There were many struggles at the beginning of the campaign, but an 8-1 finish to the regular season solidified the Jayhawks' March Madness hopes one year after winning the Women's NIT.

Brandon Schneider and his group fought for most of the game against the No. 1 seeded Trojans, trailing by one point with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter. However, a 26-9 run to end the contest effectively ended KU's chances of pulling off an upset over Lindsay Gottlieb's squad.

True freshman S'Mya Nichols continued to shine for Kansas in the defeat, leading the team with 22 points on 7-for-19 shooting. Center Taiyanna Jackson totaled 18 rebounds and 10 points in a double-double, but the bench failed to produce any points and USC standout JuJu Watkins (28 points, 11 rebounds) guided her team to victory.

While the season ended on a sour note, Coach Schneider likely saved his job following KU's second appearance in the Big Dance in the past 11 years. The team's final record on the year was 20-13 with an 11-7 conference record.

The outlook of next year's roster is questionable. Starting guards Zakiyah Franklin and Holly Kersgieter are out of eligibility, and so is star big Taiyanna Jackson. The program will look to build around Nichols and attract talent via the transfer portal to have another competitive season in 2024-25.

Both the men's and women's basketball teams have now been eliminated from the Big Dance in the Round of 32. The offseason has officially begun.