- Mechelle Voepel, espnW.com
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Editor's note: Charlie Creme, Graham Hays, Michelle Smith and Mechelle Voepel each vote to determine espnW's national player of the week, which is awarded every Monday of the women's college basketball season.
LAWRENCE, Kan. -- Chelsea Gardner had taken a few poundings at the hands of Baylor in her Kansas career. But Sunday, she and the Jayhawks got a bit of payback.
Gardner had 28 points, 13 rebounds and 3 blocks as the unranked Jayhawks upset No. 7 Baylor 76-60 at Allen Fieldhouse. Gardner, a 6-foot-3 junior forward from DeSoto, Texas, was named espnW's national player of the week.
Gardner made 12 of 21 shots from the field for Kansas, which beat Baylor for just the second time in Bonnie Henrickson's tenure as coach. Henrickson's only previous win against Baylor came in March 2009; she's now 2-15 against the Lady Bears.
Sunday's victory allowed KU to bounce back from a disappointing midweek loss at Texas. Gardner had 11 points and three rebounds in that game back in her home state.
Gardner had a far better game Sunday against Baylor than she did when the Jayhawks visited Waco, Texas, on Jan. 7. The Lady Bears won that game 75-55, and Gardner was held to nine points and five rebounds.
What changed for Sunday's very different result? Henrickson credited the Jayhawks' defense; Baylor shot just 30.4 percent from the field, including making only 3 of 20 shots from behind the arc. And when the Lady Bears came inside, Gardner was a force in stopping them.
Gardner was thrust into KU's starting lineup as a freshman late in the 2011-12 season after then-junior Carolyn Davis suffered a season-ending injury. Gardner was a big factor for Kansas when the Jayhawks won their first NCAA tournament game in more than a decade that season, as she had 15 points and 16 rebounds against Nebraska.
Last season, Gardner started 19 of the Jayhawks' 34 games and averaged 8.8 points and 6.9 rebounds.
This season, Gardner has started all but one of the Jayhawks' 18 games and leads the team in scoring (16.3 PPG) and rebounding (7.6 RPG). Kansas just got to the .500 mark -- 9-9 -- with the win over Baylor, but defeating the Lady Bears has to be a confidence-builder for Gardner and her teammates.
"I came into the game knowing we could beat them," Gardner said of at least having the belief it was possible. "At the beginning of the game, we weren't as ready as we should have been. But after the first timeout, we were ready to play. We kept pushing the gas pedal and kept fighting."
Also nominated: Crystal Bradford, Central Michigan; Bria Hartley, Connecticut.