West Virginia used a pair of huge runs in the first half to create all the separation it needed on Saturday to cruise to a 61-40 rout of the Kansas State women’s basketball team at Bramlage Coliseum.
(Kansas State’s Ashlynn Knoll scores in front of West Virginia’s Asya Bussie on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum.)
Coaches don’t often put a lot of stock in moral victories, but considering the 13th-ranked Mountaineers — who have 11 of their last 12 games — beat the Wildcats by 40 points two weeks in Morgantown, W. Va., Saturday’s game was an improvement.
“I’m proud of our team for not letting the game get out of hand, letting it get away from us - we let that happen at West Virginia and we let that happen at TCU,” K-State coach Deb Patterson. “Tonight, they just refused to do that. They fought hard, never stopped working together… we’ll learn from the film.”
For at least the first two minutes of the game Saturday, K-State looked poised to start this one the right way, but there’s a reason West Virginia (24-3, 13-2 Big 12) is one of the hottest teams in the country right now.
Katya Leick and Leti Romero connected on back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Wildcats (10-16, 4-11) a quick 6-0 lead. Unfortunately, that’s about as positive as it got for the Wildcats in this one.
(Kansas State freshman Leti Romero tries to drive into the lane against West Virginia’s Crystal Leary on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum. Romero had eight points and eight rebounds in the Wildcats’ 61-40 loss.)
Shooting 44 percent from the field overall — including 50 percent in the first half — the Mountaineers answered with the first of two monster runs to put K-State away early and sweep the season series with the Wildcats, who have now lost five of their six games.
Behind six points from Averee Fields, a 3-pointer from Christal Caldwell and smothering defense, West Virginia unloaded for a 15-2 run to charge ahead 15-8 with 11:44 to play in the first half.
The Wildcats’ Kindred Wesemann — who had 11 points — stopped the bleeding with a 3, but it didn’t slow the Mountaineers for very long, as Caldwell led WVU on another big-time run to go ahead 32-12.
As good as West Virginia was offensively, the Mountaineers keyed their runs on the defensive end, starting with Romero, who was held to just eight points on 3-of-11 shooting with seven turnovers. As a team, K-State shot just 27 percent from the field (13 of 48), with West Virginia scoring 17 points off 15 Wildcat turnovers.
“She did a better job in the second half, but she had five turnovers in the first half,” WVU coach Mike Carey said of stopping the Wildcats’ star point guard. “They go as she goes.”
Caldwell, who finished with a game-high 21 points, scored seven points to lead the WVU run, while K-State missed seven straight field goals, turned the ball over four times and missed 4 of 5 from the foul line in a span of nine minutes.
The Wildcats did outscore the Mountaineers 7-2 in the two minutes of the second half — highlighted by Romero’s second 3-pointer of the night — but it was too little, too late for the Wildcats, who trailed 34-19 at the break.
“Sometimes you just have to make a shot now and then,” Patterson said. “The timing was such that we would miss a shot, miss two shots that everyone in the building is thinking is a good look, and then they would capitalize like good teams do.
“The next three trips up the floor they’d make that run and torch you.”
(Kansas State’s Ashlynn Knoll looks to make a pass against West Virginia on Saturday at Bramlage Coliseum. Knoll had a team-high 13 points in the loss.)
Ashlynn Knoll made 5 of 11 from the field to lead the Wildcats with 13 points. K-State returns to action on Wednesday when it travels to Lawrence to face the rival Jayhawks at 7 p.m.