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Second-half run pushes Cats to win

By Joshua Kinder

Though pink was the color of choice Saturday night, the Kansas State women’s basketball team left the Texas Longhorns seeing only red.

K-State used a 15-2 run to start the second half and never looked back, as the Wildcats completed the season sweep of the Longhorns with a 65-45 victory at Bramlage Coliseum.

The Wildcats, wearing pink for the “Play4Kay” breast cancer initiative, improved to 17-9 overall and 8-6 in the Big 12, while Texas dropped to 15-11 and 5-9 in front of a home crowd of 5,532.

“I thought that was a tremendous crowd for us at home, supporting “Play4Kay,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “That meant a lot to women’s basketball, a lot to the Big 12 and certainly a lot to our program… for proudly wearing pink.”

Senior guard Tasha Dickey powered the Wildcats’ decisive second-half run by scoring 10 points in a span of 5 minutes — including a pair of 3-pointers. She finished with a game-high 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

“Going in at halftime, we understood that playing in Austin, we came out and allowed Texas to go on a big strong run — and we’ve done that a couple times at home here when we’ve had a lead,” Patterson said. “We adjusted and talked about how important it would be for us to be aggressive on the offensive end… It was very important and a big step of growth for our team.

“It had been a while since we were in the attack mode right from the get-go in the second 20 minutes.”

The Longhorns, who shot just 32 percent from the field, opened the second half missing five of their first six shots, while turning the ball over twice.

K-State, on the other hand, came out of the locker room firing, connecting on six of its first 10 tries. Dickey led the initial charge, but Brittany Chambers delivered the final blow of the surge with her second 3-pointer of the game. Chambers finished with 15 points on 6-of-18 shooting with nine rebounds. Jalana Childs added 14 points.

The Wildcats, who dominated the glass 43-30 and shot 43 percent from the field, led 31-24 at halftime and by as many as 22 in the second half. K-State did survive a 9-0 run to answer, but the Longhorns’ response was brief.

“If you can get a team into that much of a hole, its hard to fight back in the Big 12,” Chambers said. “That being said, we’ve given up worst leads than that. We thought they were going to fight back, and they did, but we handled ourselves really well and kept our composure.”

As significant as K-State’s big second-half run was, the Wildcats’ defense proved to be equally as impressive, especially against the Longhorns’ Chassidy Fussell, who came into the game averaging nearly 17 points a game, but was held to just eight on Saturday. The Wildcats also shut down Yvonne Anderson, holding the speedy guard to just four points on 1-of-8 shooting, eight points below her average.

“On Fussell, that’s a huge credit to Ashia (Woods) and Tasha — they used their length on her tonight and after she got some early baskets, it was lockdown,” Chambers said.

“The accountability was for 40 minutes tonight, instead of just 20 or 30 minutes. That allowed us to keep their guards under their averages, and any time you do that, it’s going to give you a chance.”

The Wildcats, who outscored the Longhorns 15-7 on second-chance points and owned the paint 38-26, were sluggish to start the game — playing nip-and-tuck early before eventually taking a 19-17 lead with 7:16 play to in the half. K-State never trailed again.

K-State will stay at home this week, as the Wildcats host Oklahoma State on Wednesday at 7 p.m., looking for the season sweep of the Cowgirls. It’ll be the last home game before K-State goes on the road for two straight at Missouri and Iowa State.

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