This isn’t exactly the kind of momentum the Kansas State women’s basketball team wanted as it heads into today’s matchup with the rival Kansas Jayhawks.
The Wildcats, who defeated KU 63-57 in Lawrence earlier in the season, are limping into the today’s noon contest having lost two in a row by a combined 60 points — at home to No. 1 Baylor and then on the road Wednesday at No. 15 Texas A&M.
Kansas, on the other hand, is coming off an 85-61 victory at home over Texas on Wednesday night, a win that snapped a stretch in which the Jayhawks lost four of five.
“We’re going through a rough spot, but I think it’s mostly mental,” K-State forward Chantay Caron said. “We just need to pull ourselves together and get ready for Kansas. We’re more than capable of doing that.”
The mental part of the game is clearly dinged up after back-to-back blowout losses, but K-State coach Deb Patterson said that’s the nature of the Big 12. In the Wildcats’ case, Wednesday’s loss snapped a two-game winning streak against the Aggies, but the loss came on the heels of playing the nation’s top-ranked team four days earlier — marking one of the toughest two-stretches one could face in the Big 12.
“When those two teams play well, it’s a mismatch,” she said. “There’s a reason we beat (Texas A&M) a year ago and then they end up in national championship game. They competed much closer to that level they were playing at a year ago than they were when they came here in early January.”
Today’s game with the Jayhawks (16-7, 6-5) is obviously important because it’s a rivalry game and K-State (15-8, 6-5) is going for the season sweep of the series. But more importantly, it’s a game that pits a pair of teams that enter the contest tied for fourth place in the Big 12.
“We’re trying to finish second, third or fourth in the league and if we don’t get this win, it knocks us down another spot or two, so there’s a lot of motivation,” K-State point guard Mariah White said.
Patterson, who is 23-11 against the Jayhawks, said it shouldn’t be difficult for her team to put the two straight losses behind it for today’s game.
“For us, it’s about getting in the gym and working to prepare for a team that right now, you’re tied with — and you find yourself in a position you didn’t you find yourself in going into the season — to still be in the hunt for an upper-division finish,” she said. “It’s a big-time game because KU is coming off a 25-point win and we’re coming off a 30-point loss.
“You do have a difference in emotions, but that’s Big 12 basketball. It’s timing and you have to compete the schedule. It should be one heck of a basketball game.”
One loss can make all the difference in the league standings, too. K-State, while tied for fourth with KU, could move to third with one win or drop to eighth with a loss, as six teams are bunched together going down the final stretch.
“We know where we are and our coaches have talked to us about what’s coming up and know where we have a chance to finish up,” said Caron, who is from Lawrence. “We know we need to win this game and keeping going from there to finish strong.”
KANSAS (17-6, 6-5)
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — Angel Goodrich Jr. 5-4 12.6 3.7
G — Monica Engelman Jr. 5-11 9.7 3.6
G — Natalie Knight Fr. 5-7 4.8 2.7
F — Aishah Sutherland Sr. 6-2 13.1 9.2
F — Carolyn Davis Jr. 6-3 17.5 6.0
KANSAS STATE (15-8, 6-5)
Yr. Ht. Ppg. Rpg.
G — Brittany Chambers Jr. 5-8 15.6 6.2
G — Tasha Dickey Sr. 5-10 9.8 4.0
G — Mariah White Jr. 5-8 6.0 4.3
F — Klana Childs Sr. 6-2 13.4 5.1
F — Branshea Brown Sr. 6-2 4.7 5.0