Cats rout Texas to end skid

By Joshua Kinder

Winning seems to cure all ills.

That certainly was the case Wednesday night as the Kansas State women’s basketball team got back on the right track with a decisive 68-47 victory over the Texas Longhorns at Bramlage Coliseum.

The win snapped a four-game losing skid for the Wildcats, who charged out to a big halftime lead and never looked back, avenging a previous loss to the Longhorns that started the four-game slide.

“It was just great,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “What I really appreciate about our team is that I feel like whatever happened the last game, we work really hard to change that… For our kids to come back against Texas and to battle like they did tonight, was just awesome.”

Hot-handed K-State (13-11, 4-8 Big 12) shot better than 51 percent from the field in the first half for a 33-22 halftime lead.

It only got worse for the Longhorns after that, as the Wildcats used a 14-2 run to start the second half and take a 47-24 lead — anchored by two 3-pointers apiece from Brittany Chambers and Haley Texada.

Chambers was 8 of 18 from the field and 3 of 9 from behind the arc to finish with a game-high 24 points and career-high eight assists. Texada joined Chambers in double figures with 13 points. Chantay Caron added 12 points and nine rebounds.

Eight of the Wildcat’s 11 field goals in the second half came from behind the arc, as K-State finished the game 12 of 33 from deep. Six different Wildcats connected on 3-pointers.

“They made 3s and they’re the kind of team that can make a lot of them,” Texas coach Karen Aston said. “I just didn’t think we had the kind of urgency that it takes to guard a team that shoots like that… If you don’t communicate against a team like that defensively they can make you look really stupid. They made us look like that tonight, credit to them, they made shots.”

But as impressive as K-State was offensively, Wednesday night’s game was also won on defense. The Wildcats got outrebounded by 21 in the first meeting with Texas, a game in which the Longhorns overcame a halftime deficit to win going away 59-40.

“I just thought all around after the first 12 minutes, every minute thereafter was just a balloon being deflated emotionally,” Patterson said of the first loss to Texas on Jan. 26. “We didn’t play well in any phase of the game… We didn’t defend very well and I felt we lost our zest and passion.”

On Wednesday, though, the Wildcats lost the battle on the glass just 34-31 and held Texas to 38 percent shooting with 16 turnovers. Chassidy Fussell and Imani McGee-Stafford, who average a combined 25.5 points a game for the Longhorns (9-14, 2-10) this season, were limited to just four total points.

“In this game, I felt like our players were very focused,” Patterson said. “That mental competitiveness that you have to bring to every possession, they didn’t allow themselves individually or collectively to go to the other place where you are not dialed in.”

Texas led 13-12 early in the first half, but the Wildcats used a 10-2 run to create all the separation they needed. Mariah White sparked the surge with a 3-pointer and then Chambers, Texada and Chantay Caron finished it off with three straight baskets to give the Wildcats a 22-15 lead.

The Longhorns struggled to get much going inside or out, making just 4 of 13 from the field to start the game, while turning the ball over five times in the first eight minutes.

“I thought this was probably as lackluster of a performance from our team that I have seen definitely in conference play,” Aston said. “I saw this a couple of times in non-conference play. We just played very lackluster and you cannot go into this type of arena, against a Kansas State team on their home court and have a lackluster performance. So credit to them, they showed up and they have continued to show a ton of character with all that they have had go on.”

The Wildcats will try to make it two straight on Saturday when K-State travels to Stillwater, Okla., to face the Oklahoma State Cowgirls at 4 p.m.

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