Kansas State coach Deb Patterson understands how difficult it is to win without a deep bench. After Saturday, Grambling State also understands that challenge.
(s State freshman point guard Kindred Wesemann drives past Grambling State’s Dominique Patrick on Saturday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats won 83-50).
The Wildcats overcame a slow start — thanks to an overwhelming 52 points from their bench — to run away from the visiting Tigers and win 83-50 at Bramlage Coliseum.
With just six players available, Grambling State had no answer for a K-State team that saw 12 different players score — including a team-high 14 points from redshirt-freshman Kelly Thomson.
It was just a year ago that K-State had to play the final 19 games of the season with only seven healthy players — a stretch in which the Wildcats combined to score just 48 total bench points.
“I thought they created a great jolt of enthusiasm and energy when they hit the floor,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said of her bench production. “The ball moved a little bit quicker. I think they had an advantage watching from the sideline. They could feel that tempo. We all felt like we were in mud at the start of the game. It was really big for us to get that second group for us out there and get that pop that they brought to the floor.”
Thomson led the bench barrage by hitting three of her four 3-pointers during a 9-minute stretch in the first half to help the Wildcats pull away for a 43-18 halftime lead. The Riley County product wasn’t alone, though, as K-State’s bench scored the final 28 points of the first half — including a 23-4 run that erased a sluggish start by the Wildcats, who have won two straight games.
Freshmen Kindred Wesemann and Erica Young also provided boosts for the Wildcats by combining for 13 points. Wesemann was especially key for K-State (4-3), as she spelled Leti Romero to finish with nine points, three rebounds and a game-high six assists in 20 minutes.
“(Kindred) had a good floor game today,” Patterson said. “She didn’t have mistakes and she was fundamental. I thought she had good tempo and her decision-making was where it needed to be. She was focused and very committed to what we needed her to do from a fundamental point of view.
“She kept her team in the offense and her numbers are a result.”
Thomson credited Wesemann for her big day from behind the arc. It was only Thomson’s second game in double figures this season and first since scoring 15 points at UTEP on Nov. 16.
“It’s definitely all just great passes by Kindred, especially,” Thomson said. “She’s always looking up and looking to push the ball. Kindred did a great job of delivering the ball to shooters. It helped us to knock down shots and to get good passes to the outside.”
(Kansas State redshirt-freshman guard Kelly Thomson connects on one of her four 3-pointers on Saturday against Grambling State at Bramlage Coliseum. Thomson had a team-high 14 points off the bench).
Grambling State (2-5), which actually led the game early at 5-4 and then trailed by only three midway through the first half, turned the ball over 25 times and shot 35 percent from the field.
K-State, which now gets the next eight days off before its next game, shot 44 percent from the field — including 10 of 32 from behind the arc — and outrebounded the Tigers 44-37. The Wildcats had just 14 turnovers to go along with a season-high 26 assists.
It was a complete team effort for the Wildcats, who led by as many as 38 points in the second half — thanks to 38 points in the paint and 28 points off Grambling State turnovers. Junior Haley Texada was the only starter in double figures with 12 points, but eight other Wildcats finished with at least five points, including nine apiece from Wesemann, Romero and Chantay Caron.
“This is a game where I’m glad to see our assist numbers go up, and I felt we got a lot of looks inside and out on the offensive end of the floor,” Patterson said. “That felt great to get that kind of balance. The goal for us is to finish plays, and I think we’re getting there. We’re getting looks at plays, but not necessarily finishing them at the level we would like. That is the next step.”
K-State will attempt to take that next step when the Wildcats return to the court Dec. 15 to host UC-Santa Barbara at 1 p.m.