LAWRENCE — The Kansas State women’s basketball team had all the momentum going into halftime, but couldn’t sustain it in the second half against rival Kansas in the Sunflower Showdown.
The Wildcats fell to the 20th-ranked Jayhawks 72-63 in Allen Fieldhouse Wednesday night in both team’s Big 12 season opener.
It was KU’s first win against the Wildcats since Feb. 2, 2010, which was also in Lawrence.
“I think we showed signs, in this game, of being the kind of basketball team we hope to be, as we compete through Big 12 play,” K-State head coach Deb Patterson said. “Our second half really did us in. I don’t think we took the floor in the second half with a commitment to defend, and to bring that focus to the defensive end with the same intensity that matched the intensity KU brought to the floor offensively.
“When we came out soft on D, I thought that really impacted our overall play and some of our decisions.”
K-State’s Haley Texada had a big night in the loss, scoring a career-high 21 points. Senior guard Brittany Chambers added 15 points for the Wildcats and junior guard/forward Chantay Caron was also in double-digits with 11.
Senior Mariah White led K-State with seven rebounds. She also had six points, six assists and four steals.
KU featured five players in double-figures, with senior point guard Angel Goodrich leading the Jayhawks with 17 points. She also posted five rebounds, two steals and a game-high nine assists. Sophomore Natalie Knight had 16 points and 6-foot-3 senior forward Carolyn Davis — who is still healing from a torn knee she suffered against KSU in Manhattan a year ago — totaled 14 points. Monica Engelman and CeCe Harper each added 10.
The Wildcats (9-4, 0-1 Big 12), who sport a much smaller and guard-heavy line-up than in year’s past, were in trouble early against the bigger, more seasoned Jayhawks (10-2, 1-0). With 4:40 to go in the first half, a lay-up by Goodrich expanded KU’s lead to 31-19 after a Knight 3-pointer and it seemed K-State was in for a long night.
But, then Texada got going.
A basket inside by Texada broke the Wildcats’ field goal drought and moments later Caron connected on a lay-up after a taking down an offensive and defensive rebound on each end. Caron again came up with a big play on defense after her bucket and stole the ball from Knight.
K-State kept up its aggressive play and Texada drew a foul on the way to the hoop. She swished both her shots and the Jayhawks’ lead was trimmed 31-25.
The Wildcats kept attacking and Texada kept finding herself at the charity stripe, where she continued to make KU’s fouls pay.
K-State closed the gap after sophomore Ashia Woods grabbed an offensive rebound when White missed her second free throw attempt. Woods seized the opportunity and kissed the ball off the glass and drew a foul. She connected on the 3-point play and just like that, the Cats were within striking distance down 34-31 with 1:25 to go in the half.
Davis missed a short shot on the other end for Kansas and Texada was fouled again on the offensive end for K-State, where she made both shots and was — at that point — 8-for-8 at the foul line.
After another Davis miss, the Wildcats completed its comeback when Texada nailed a 3-pointer from the top of the key with under three seconds left in the half to take a 36-34 lead.
While K-State carried all the momentum into the halftime break, it would be short-lived.
Both teams traded baskets to start the second half and the contest was tied 40-40 after an inside bucket by Davis.
Knight broke the tie with a jumper from the free throw line and a 3-pointer from Engelman signaled a run by the Jayhawks.
In the first half K-State was 11 for 13 at the free-throw line while KU was just 1 for 1. But that changed in the second half, especially after Engleman’s trey.
Goodrich was able to get to the line and another Jayhawk 3-pointer — this time from Harper — put KU back in the driver’s seat with a 52-42 lead with 11:58 to play.
A fast-break lay-up and a jumper from Texada and White were able to bring the Wildcats to within four points of the Jayhawks later in the game with 7:24 to play, but another run like K-State put together to close out the first half wasn’t in the cards.
Aggressive baskets by Goodrich kept the Wildcats in the rear-view mirror, despite 3-pointer makes by Caron and Chambers in the closing minutes.
“I don’t think I was particular smart tonight and comfortable with my shots,” said Chambers, who was 6 of 14 from the field, including a 1-for-4 night from 3-point range. “I think there was a little bit of a panic (from me), which you shouldn’t see from a senior, so we’ll have to come back next game, get our heads back on and play tougher.”
The Jayhawks outscored K-State 42-32 in the paint and shot 54.5 percent from the 3-point line, where they hit 6 of 11. KSU was 5 of 18 from the perimeter.
KU also evened up the free-throw battle after a slow start. The Jayhawks were 10-of-14 from the charity stripe for the night. K-State was 12 of 16.
The Wildcats will be back in Bramlage Coliseum Saturday, where they will continue Big 12 play against TCU at 6 p.m. following the men’s game against Oklahoma State.