A layup by Chantay Caron pulled Kansas State within three points early in the second half, but that’s as close as the Wildcats would get the rest of the way Saturday, losing to rival Kansas, 71-64, at Bramlage Coliseum.
(Kansas State’s Jessica Sheble tries to score inside against Kansas’ CeCe Harper and Chelsea Gardner on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum. The Jayhawks won 71-64).
“It’s a disappointing loss anytime you drop one at home in Big 12 play,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “We didn’t make the plays that were going to kick us over into victory.”
The Wildcats, who have now lost two straight, trailed by six at halftime and wasted no time making their run at the Jayhawks to start the second half, but they couldn’t keep it up.
Ashia Woods started the modest surge with a free throw, followed by Caron’s layup to make it 32-29. Woods then stole the ball from the Jayhawks’ CeCe Harper to give the Wildcats a chance to get within one or tie the game. But Caron misfired on a 3-pointer and KU came away with the long rebound to score a layup on the other end and silence the Wildcats’ run.
The Jayhawks turned that layup into a 7-2 run of their own to take a 39-31 lead with 16 minutes to play, later building their lead to as many as 14 with 7:28 to play.
K-State (8-11, 2-6 Big 12) put together a late run to get as close as four inside the final 20 seconds — including six points from Leti Romero and a 3-pointer from Katya Leick — but Kansas (10-10, 3-5) made 7 of 8 from the free-throw line to secure the victory.
(Kansas State senior Katya Leick looks for an opening in the Jayhawks’ defense on Saturday. Leick had 12 points and a team-best nine rebounds).
“I think the best minutes of that game for us were the last 4 1/2 minutes, in terms of our competitive intensity,” Patterson said.
Romero made 8 of 14 shots for a team-high 17 points, grabbed five rebounds and had eight assists. Leick had 12 points and a team-best nine rebounds for the Wildcats, who shot 41 percent from the field and made just 9 of 21 from the free-throw line.
Offensively, the day belonged to the Jayhawks, who had five players reach double figures — led by Chelsea Gardner’s double-double of 21 points and 10 rebounds, including 17 points in the first half.
“I think she’s just steady,” Patterson said. “She finds a way to get you on her back. We weren’t accountable to the game plan in the first half. Credit her and her teammates for finding ways to get her the ball. I thought we went into halftime and the game was manageable.
“She went in with 17 and they were hard-earned baskets. She’s just a veteran, takes advantage of her opportunities, posts hard, and knows when she has a 15-footer. She just plays with a really good feel for the flow of the game.”
But while Gardner battled foul trouble and sat for large segments of the second half, K-State still could not take advantage, as other Jayhawk players found ways to make plays down the stretch — like Harper, who scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half, including 10 points from the foul line.
(Kansas State coach Deb Patterson looks down at the officials during the Wildcats’ 71-64 loss to Kansas).
“It was a great opportunity when she went to the bench for us to score inside, which we didn’t, and I thought that was a factor in the game,” Patterson said. “They countered. Credit their players for putting the ball on the floor and driving the ball hard.
“So, if you’ve lost that post presence, you get that penetration game working for you and get to the foul line, which they did off their penetration game. You have an opportunity, but you have to answer with what their answer is, and we didn’t do that.”
The Jayhawks shot 43 percent from the floor and capitalized on K-State turnovers — scoring 19 points on the Wildcats’ miscues. KU did the work on the glass too, outrebounding K-State 44-35.
“(Our coaches) had a game plan for us and KU is a Big 12 team, so they are talented and athletic, but we didn’t bring what our coaches had set for us, and our expectations for us,” Leick said. “That’s where we failed. Unfortunately, this is the outcome of it. It’s something that will stay bitter, especially for me, for some time.”
(Ashlynn Knoll (left), Kelly Thomson (middle) and Kindred Wesemann sit on the bench toward the end of the game Saturday).
K-State will look to end its two-game skid on Wednesday when it hosts Oklahoma at 7 p.m.