A strong second half by senior forward Katya Leick helped the Kansas State women’s basketball team overcome some frigid first-half shooting to finish off its exhibition schedule with a 73-65 win over Alaska-Anchorage.
Leick scored 18 of her game-high 24 points in the second half, which included a stretch that saw her score 12 straight points to help erase a four-point halftime deficit.
“I thought that started and ended with Katya,” said K-State head coach Deb Patterson. “She was kind of like a warrior that ignited our basketball team, especially in the second half. She became an enormous go-to, in fact if she is just average I don’t think that we come away from this game with a victory.”
But, the Seawolves had led by much more than that earlier as K-State started the game by missing their first nine field goals — they shot just 28 percent in the first half. When Alaska-Anchorage forward Kylie Burns hit two free throws with 9:23 remaining in the first half the Seawolves led 25-9.
What followed was a long, slow Wildcat run that saw their shooting begin to match their size advantage. A Leick layup with 15:39 left in the second half gave K-State its first lead since 75 seconds into the ballgame at 45-44, and capped a methodical 36-to-19 run that lasted nearly 15 minutes of game time.
“We knew we had to pick it up and take the lead,” Leick said. “The best way to do that is to feed off of each other.”
The Wildcats would never trail again, and put the game away with nine straight points to turn a 62-62 tie with 5:19 to play into a 73-62 lead at 2:12. K-State shot 48 percent in the second half.
Patterson saw the game as a chance for her young Wildcats to learn to handle adversity, and also the difficulties that not taking advantage of early opportunities can create.
“Yeah, we’ve got to learn how to finish,” she said. “I thought we could have put a stab in that team early on, and we had some great looks but just could not finish in the paint.”
The Wildcats, who spent much of last year undersized and undermanned, saw the benefits of their newly acquired size from the outset, despite the early shooting struggles. K-State outrebounded the Seawolves 52-35 on the game, and collected 25 offensive rebounds.
Leick led the way with 12 boards to give herself a double-double, and Romero narrowly missed a double-double of her own with 15 points and nine rebounds.