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TCU sours Cats’ senior send-off

By Joshua Kinder

Kindred Wesemann scored 13 points in the first half and appeared to be headed toward a career night. The Kansas State guard buried a trio of 3-pointers, came up with three steals, skied for tough rebounds and staked the Wildcats to a four-point halftime lead against visiting TCU.

There was little doubt a night normally reserved for seniors — the final home game — was going to belong to a freshman.

That is, until Wesemann was called for her third foul just a little more than two minutes into the second half, followed by her fourth foul only 10 seconds later.

(Kansas State Kindred Wesemann reacts after collecting her third and fourth fouls just 2 1/2 minutes into the second half on Monday night against TCU).

Whatever momentum K-State had hoped to carry into the second half was erased with a pair of bang-bang calls in front of the Horned Frogs’ bench, forcing the energetic guard from the game for nearly eight minutes.

The Wildcats never recovered and ended the regular season with a 51-46 loss to TCU on Monday night at Bramlage Coliseum.

“That was a big problem, obviously — that was huge,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “You come out and you like to have some pop, extend upon the lead and have at least two players out there who can be effective on the perimeter and move the ball side to side. I think that kept us in a big funk for the better part of the next 10-12 minutes offensively.”

Wesemann, who entered Monday’s finale with three straight games in double figures — including a career-high 15 points last week at Kansas — supplied nearly all of K-State’s offense from the start against TCU.

The Pleasant Hill, Mo., native scored the first eight points of the game, including a pair of 3-pointers, and 13 of the Wildcats’ first 17 points to help K-State to an early lead.

Unfortunately, Wesemann couldn’t find the same groove to start the second half and never scored again.

“I felt like I played defense the same as I did in the first half on both of those plays, so I was kind of caught off guard,” Wesemann said of the two quick fouls. “She called the fouls, so you have to respect that and just hope that we can rally some people and keep up the energy that we had.”

But by the time Wesemann returned to the game, K-State’s modest lead had turned into a two-point deficit at 38-36 with 9:57 to play. The Wildcats (11-18, 5-13 Big 12) were able to tie the game twice at 38 and 40 and then take a 42-41 lead on six straight points from Bre Lewis inside, but it was the last time K-State would lead in this one.

Zahna Medley — who had a game-high 18 points — drained a 3-pointer with seven minutes to play that gave the lead back to TCU at 44-42. Chelsea Prince made it a four-point lead a minute later.

(Kansas State senior Ashlynn Knoll makes a turnaround jumper in the first half against TCU on Monday night).

Katya Leick — one of three K-State seniors honored prior to the game with Ashlynn Knoll and Chantay Caron — got the Wildcats within one at 46-45 when she completed a three-point play inside the four-minute mark. Leick had seven points and six rebounds.

But again TCU (17-13, 8-10) had an answer when Prince scored on an offensive rebound to extend the Horned Frogs’ lead back to three with 2:45 remaining. Veja Hamilton then made a four-point deficit when she connected on the front half of two free throw attempts with 1:43 left.

K-State trimmed the deficit back to three at 49-46 on a free throw from Ashia Woods with 1:02 remaining. Woods missed her second shot and TCU collected the rebound, but turned the ball over with 34 seconds left, setting the Wildcats up for one last chance to tie the game.

Point guard Leti Romero got the ball into the half court and managed to suck the defense in enough on a drive to the paint, then kicked it back out to Knoll, who missed a wide open 3-pointer with 13 seconds left. Romero — who had five points and nine assists — got the rebound and tried to get the ball out to Wesemann near the K-State coaching box, but sailed the pass wide and out of bounds, turning it over with seven seconds left and essentially ending the game.

“On the last possession of the game, you have a wide-open 3-point look and another opportunity for a 3-point look to tie the game and we can’t ask for much more than that,” Patterson said. “One resulted in a miss and the other resulted in a turnover. To me, that’s the difference in a slow-paced, hard-to-find-your-basket basketball game.”

Neither team played well. Offense came at a premium, as K-State shot just 34 percent in the game — including 25 percent in the second half alone. TCU was the same, also shooting 34 percent from the field.

The difference was at the foul line — especially in the second half — triggered by Wesemann’s third and fourth fouls. TCU was 15 of 22 from the charity stripe overall and 9 of 16 in the second half, while K-State was just 3 for 7 on the night.

(Kansas State’s Kindred Wesemann drives into the paint for a layup against TCU Monday night. The freshman finished with a team-high 13 points).

“The reality of this game is you don’t win in Big 12 play scoring 46 points,” Patterson said. “That was the story on a night when baskets were hard to come by. They had some trips to the foul line that we couldn’t match. It was just quite simple — those 46 points aren’t going beat anybody in the Big 12. We shot 25 percent in the second half and that is the story of the game.”

With the regular season in the books, K-State will now travel to Oklahoma City for the Big 12 tournament where the Wildcats will face the rival Jayhawks at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in the opening round on Friday night at 6, televised on Fox College Sports.

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