With just six regular-season games remaining and now five games under .500, the sun may be setting on the Kansas State women’s basketball team’s chances at making the postseason.
But don’t say that to Wildcat senior Katya Leick.
(Kansas State senior Ashlynn Knoll puts up a shot inside against Texas’ Kelsey Lang on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum. Knoll had eight points off the bench in the Wildcats’ 69-63 loss to the Longhorns).
“I’m not counting the postseason out yet,” the forward said following K-State’s 69-63 loss to the Texas Longhorns on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum. “We still have games to play and we still have an opportunity to have the same record or a game or so better than last year.
“I’m looking to the next game. I’m looking to compete and I’m looking to get a win. I think that’s a mindset that you need to have as a team.”
K-State (9-14, 3-9 Big 12) no doubt has some work to do after losing its third straight game on Wednesday if the postseason is to become a reality. But if there was any consolation in the loss, it’s that the Wildcats competed better against the visiting Longhorns (17-7, 8-4) than they did last Saturday when they lost by 40 at West Virginia.
The Wildcats trailed by seven at halftime and by as many as 12 early in the second half before using a 16-4 run during a five-minute stretch to tie the game at 49 with 12:40 to play.
Ashlynn Knoll keyed the Wildcats’ run with eight points off the bench — including back-to-back 3-pointers that pulled K-State within one and then tied the game. Both teams traded baskets for the next five minutes, tying the game twice more, before Texas started to pull away with five unanswered points on a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to go ahead 58-53 with 5:50 remaining.
K-State would make another run at Texas at the end on back-to-back 3-pointers from Ashia Woods and Bri Craig to cut the deficit to three points with 1:02 to play. The Wildcats, who shot 38 percent (19 of 50) from the field, could never get any closer.
“This is night and day compared to how we competed at West Virginia,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “Its disappointing to me because I felt like we were in position at home to take it and just couldn’t — not everyone was at the top of their game tonight. We pretty much have to have that to be successful, but I am proud that we kept it close and fought hard in that second half.”
(Kansas State junior Ashia Woods slashes to the basket for a layup against Texas on Wednesday. Woods had a team-high 15 points).
Woods led the Wildcats with 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting, while Leick added 13 points, making three shots from behind the arc. But this was a night K-State needed Leti Romero as well. The Wildcats’ leading scorer and rebounder this season was shut out in the first half and finished with only eight points on 2-of-10 shooting — tying her second-lowest output in Big 12 play this season.
“I think she just struggled tonight,” Patterson said. “Everything was just a little more difficult… There are just some nights when you see players struggling to get a flow and a comfort level and I never felt offensively she got that bounce in her step.
“That’s a factor for us, a big hit offensively for us.”
Texas, which did most of its damage inside — outscoring the Wildcats 36-22 in the paint — had three players in double figures, led by 15 points from Chassidy Fussell. Empress Davenport added 12 points and six rebounds, while Nneka Enemkpali had 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Longhorns also won the battle on the glass, outrebounding the Wildcats 37-27. K-State had eight offensive rebounds, resulting in just three second-chance points.
K-State will face another team from the Lone Star State this Saturday when it hosts Texas Tech at 2 p.m. for its annual “Play 4 Kay” breast cancer awareness game at Bramlage Coliseum. The Wildcats won the first meeting with the Red Raiders, 72-65, on Jan. 14 in Lubbock.
“You need to take each game as it comes,” Leick said. “Whatever happens at the end of the season happens at the end of the season, but what we control right now is each game and what we do at practice (today) and to prepare for Texas Tech.”
(Kansas State senior Katya Leick shoots a 3-pointer in front of Texas’ Brady Sanders on Wednesday night. Leick made three from behind the arc and finished with 13 points).
International recruit visits K-State
Laura Cornelius, a top international recruit, was in attendance Wednesday for K-State’s game against Texas. Cornelius averaged 12.1 points and three assists a game to help the Netherlands to a fourth-place finish at the 18-and-under FIBA World Championships this past summer, earning all-tournament honors. Current Wildcat freshman Leti Romero was named MVP of the same tournament after leading Spain to the championship.
Cornelius, who reportedly visited Duke earlier this week and still has a visit at Gonzaga coming up, currently plays for CTO Amsterdam, averaging 19.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists a game.
Thomson out with another torn ACL
Redshirt-freshman guard Kelly Thomson will miss the remainder of the basketball season after tearing her left ACL during Monday’s practice. The former Riley County standout redshirted a year ago after tearing the same ACL during a preseason workout.
Thomson played in 19 games this season, including one start, averaging 2.7 points per contest. She scored a career-high 15 points at UTEP on Nov. 15 and 14 points at home against Grambling State on Dec. 7.