Not only is Kansas State short in stature, but now the women’s basketball team is short on numbers.
Already faced with the challenge of playing the season with the smallest lineup in the Big 12, the Wildcats suffered another couple blows this week with the losses of Ashia Woods and Ashlynn Knoll for the season. Both were injured during the first hour of Monday’s practice — Woods going down with an Achilles tear and Knoll with a torn ACL.
With Malone and Caron questionable, K-State’s only remaining size is Heidi Brown at just 5-foot-11.
Against the Cowgirls on Wednesday, though, it didn’t matter. With only seven players available, the three Wildcats played at least 43 minutes and two others played at least 34 minutes.
“We’re just going to do what we worked to do tonight,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said about how the Wildcats go forward with a depleted roster. “I know what we brought to the floor (Wednesday) and I know everyone can see we have a group that has the heart and has learned to be extremely competitive. That’s what we want. When you do that, good things can come from it.”
The Wildcats were in a similar position during the 2009-10 season when Kelsey Hill, Alina Voronenko and Shalin Spani were all injured. That season, the only bench players were freshman Mariah White and sophomore Branshea Brown. That team finished the season 14-18.
Woods, who is having surgery today, started and played in 18 games this season, averaging a career-best 5.9 points, five rebounds and 2.3 steals per game. Knoll saw action in 17 games, with two starts, averaging four points and 1.9 rebounds a game.
K-State lost freshman guard and Riley County High product Kelly Thomson and junior forward Katya Leick before the season with non-contact ACL tears. Freshman guard Marissa Ellis left the program at semester and freshman forward Stacey Malone has missed the last three games with a foot injury.
Then late in the Wildcats’ 76-70 overtime victory over No. 12 Oklahoma State on Wednesday, junior forward Chantay Caron went down hard after trying to take a charge. She was helped to the locker room for evaluation and did not return.
A roster that was once 13 strong, now has only six healthy players, maybe seven if Caron’s injury isn’t serious. If Caron can’t go on Saturday when the Wildcats travel to Austin to face the Longhorns, K-State will be down to just one bench player, presumably walk-on guard Kendra Spresser.