A win Saturday does nothing to change the Kansas State women’s basketball team’s situation going into the Big 12 tournament next week, in terms of its opponent.
The Wildcats will play Iowa State on Thursday of next week — as either the No. 4 or No. 5 seed — depending on the outcome of K-State’s game Saturday night at 6:30 at home against Texas Tech in the regular-season finale.
But in terms of pride and NCAA tournament aspirations, Saturday’s game couldn’t be more important, especially for a team coming off back-to-back losses — an overtime loss at Missouri last weekend and a 57-33 rout at Iowa State on Wednesday.
If K-State defeats the Red Raiders (17-12, 5-12), and Iowa State falls at Baylor, the Wildcats lock up the No. 4 seed. If K-State loses, it’s the No. 5 seed, even if Iowa State loses, because the Cyclones swept the Wildcats this season.
“If you want to be number four, you win that game on Saturday,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “You’ve played the conference and the nonconference to put you in that position, so to do anything less, is not acceptable.”
The last two games sting for the Wildcats, who a week ago, seemed to be riding high toward the end of the season and was a virtual lock for their second straight NCAA tournament bid.
But possibly facing three straight losses to end the regular season — not counting what takes place next week in Kansas City — has K-State (18-11, 9-8) already in March Madness mode.
The problem, however, is that it’s not the right kind of madness. It’s the infuriating kind, one that comes about after playing to just a four-point deficit on the road at Iowa State in the first half, only to get run out of the gym in the second half.
“It was that bad and worse,” Patterson said Thursday. “The second half was void of competitiveness, we had no energy, no intensity or fire or passion, all the things I talk about that Kansas State has to be in order to be good. We just left it in the locker room.”
The 33 points scored was the lowest output for any Patterson-coached team at K-State and the fewest points scored by a Wildcats team since 1993.
As if watching Wednesday’s game from the sideline wasn’t enough, Patterson had already broken down the film in time for Thursday’s practice, ready to get this ship righted before it’s too late.
“I’ve watched it a lot, just to further deepen my depression,” Patterson quipped. “Those are certainly film clips I don’t want to relive, but you have to see it, face it and be prepared to show your team because what sometimes players think was happening, isn’t necessarily what the rest of us saw.”
It wasn’t any better the second time either, Patterson said. Her Wildcats turned the ball over 20 times and shot fewer than 30 percent from the field, scoring just 17 points in the first half and 16 points in the second half.
K-State’s leading scorer, Brittany Chambers was limited to just four points in 32 minutes. Tasha Dickey scored 11 points in the first half, but none in the second. And Jalana Childs was just 4-for-12 from the field, finishing with 10 points and two rebounds.
“Your two best players have to play the best,” Patterson said of Chambers and Childs. “They have to come and they have to establish that connection and put a demand, ‘this is what I’m going to bring.’ If we get that, I think we’re pretty good. If we don’t, it makes it very difficult for us.
“And that’s true for every team. Your best kids have to show up and bring that maturity, that competitiveness, they set the tone, they set the toughness — they set the table emotionally, mentally, physically and with the energy. For us to finish well, we’re going to have that from both of them.”
At this point in the season, Patterson said it’s not so much about Xs and Ox anymore. It’s about the want-to, the desire and the competitive spirit that needs to be there every night for her team to have a chance to finish strong and indeed make the NCAA tournament.
“I think it’s a choice and you choose to show up, compete and fight,” she said. “There’s an accountability you have to bring to competing. You can’t just play. Playing is for intramurals. You cannot play without understanding there’s an accountability to every possession, to your teammates, to your program and to your season. We really just lost that emotionally (Wednesday) night.”
TEXAS TECH (17-12, 5-12)
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — Chynna Brown Jr. 5-8 8.9 4.2
G — Casey Morris Jr. 5-9 9.6 3.4
G — Monique Smalls Jr. 5-6 8.3 3.7
F — Jordan Barncastle Sr. 6-2 5.3 3.0
C — Kierra Mallard Sr. 6-3 11.1 8.0
KANSAS STATE (18-11, 9-8)
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — Brittany Chambers Jr. 5-8 14.4 6.2
G — Tasha Dickey Sr. 5-10 10.3 4.1
G — Mariah White Jr. 5-8 5.4 4.7
F — Jalana Childs Sr. 6-2 13.8 4.8
F — Branshea Brown Sr. 6-2 5.0 4.8