Wildcats shoot past Washburn

By Joshua Kinder

So what if the Kansas State women’s basketball team doesn’t have much size this season? The Wildcats may not need it if they can keep doing what they did Monday night from long range.

K-State, playing its final exhibition game, used five straight 3-pointers from three different shooters to open the second half and fuel the Wildcats’ runaway 75-42 victory over the Lady Blues at Bramlage Coliseum.

“I feel good about the improvement we saw in our basketball team over the course of the past week,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “I do believe we got better, which feels good, and that’s really what tonight was all about.”

The Wildcats used a 13-3 run to close the first half for a 28-17 lead at the break and then put the game away to start the second with a 19-2 surge powered by freshman guard Brianna Craig.

“The last game, we were very sluggish when we came out at half and I really liked the focus and the intensity we took the floor with,” Patterson said. “It was very special to see our younger players like Bri Craig step up with that kind of mentality coming out of the locker room. It was a game-changing moment, where you felt like, ‘OK, we’re not going to dink around here for 10 minutes and find our way.”

Craig, who finished with 17 points and six rebounds, made two straight 3s to open the half, followed by a deep shot from Chantay Caron and then one from Ashia Woods, before Craig buried her third deep ball. Craig finished 6-of-9 from the field, including 4-for-5 behind the arc.

“Bri was solid — 4-for-5 I think from 3 — making shots when she was open,” said Brittany Chambers, who had a game-high 21 points. “What I was proud of her for tonight was after that first game when she forced things, like we all did, she didn’t force anything, she was smart and didn’t play like a freshman tonight, which is what we need out of her.”

Within three minutes, the Wildcats had jumped out to a 43-19 lead on the Lady Blues, who opened the second half 1-for-6 from the field with five turnovers.

As sharp as the Wildcats were offensively, they were equally as impressive on the defensive side, forcing the Lady Blues into 27 turnovers and coming away with a 20 steals. Woods, who finished with 12 points, had seven takeaways, while Caron had five and Chambers four.

“We start four guards and a forward who could be a guard on any other program in the country and we’re trying to do what we do best,” Chambers said, “and that’s be quick and move the ball and play tough defense.”

Offensively, K-State couldn’t miss. The Wildcats made 7-of-11 from the field — including 5-of-7 from behind the arc — in the first four minutes of the second half to build a 47-19 dominating lead.

Chambers was 6-of-14 from the field, including a trio of 3-pointers, while grabbing a team-high nine rebounds and dishing eight assists.

K-State, which struggled in its first exhibition game last week, even trailing Fort Hays State for much of the first half, seemed to have everything working on Monday night. The Wildcats shot better from behind the arc (11-of-34) than Washburn did from anywhere on the court (16-of-56) and won the battle on the glass 45-35.

“We saw little improvements and I think there’s a lot more to come as we continue to put more on our players’ plates offensively, than just what we’re doing now,” Patterson said. “But you have to be able to get comfortable with something and I think they took steps along that line.”

The Wildcats’ season opener against Idaho State on Friday will tip at 5:30 p.m., with the men’s season opener to follow at 8 p.m. against North Dakota.

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