Kansas State coach Jeff Mittie fashions himself an optimist. He’s shown it on several occasions and especially during this season, a relatively trying one for the Wildcats.
So when K-State endures shooting droughts, like the 1-for-13 three-point showing it produced Wednesday night in a 54-52 home loss to TCU, Mittie doesn’t get down on his group.
“They’re trained to do the right thing, all those things,” Mittie said. “It’s just one of those things that one day, it’ll break out, and you won’t know why, but we’ll break out of it.”
K-State is still searching for that day. It’s a huge reason why the Wildcats couldn’t hold off the Frogs’ rally.
“I thought our shot selection from 3 was fine tonight. I thought our shot selection was pretty good,” Mittie said. “It’s not always going to be perfect, but it’s not going to be perfect inside, either.”
The problem for K-State: Mittie may have liked the shot selection, but the execution left something to be desired.
The Wildcats shot just 36% from the floor, 8% from beyond the arc, committed 14 turnovers and produced just two bench points. Yet they were in the game until the final seconds.
Down two with two seconds left and inbounding under its own basket, K-State had its final play go awry. The Frogs tipped the initial pass, which prompted a scramble for the ball. Eventually, when point guard Angela Harris secured possession, just one second remained.
She uncorked a desperation triple.
K-State found a way to waste a 22-point, 17-rebound game from freshman center Ayoka Lee, who recorded her fourth straight double-double but failed to register a field goal in the fourth frame.
Her only point came with 11 seconds left. K-State faced a 53-51 deficit, and Lee went to the free throw line with a chance to tie the game. She went 1-for-2.
From there, the Wildcats were playing catch-up. No luck there, either.
“We did a good job, that last minute, of continuing to give ourselves chances and opportunities,” Mittie said. “We just couldn’t make one more play.”
Especially considering K-State 0-for-5 from deep in the fourth.
“That’s a tough number,” Mittie said. “(Plus) only going to the free throw line 10 times. I didn’t think we were tough enough in the middle of the floor. I didn’t think we were aggressive enough in the middle of the floor to really draw fouls there. That would be an area that we’ve got to do better at.”
That has seldom been a problem for K-State this season. Lee and senior forward Peyton Williams have become reliable post threats, using an array of post moves to score underneath and stick back their own misses when they don’t.
Harris shot 2-for-15 from the floor. Chrissy Carr went 0-for-8. Savannah Simmons went 1-for-3, including a key 3-point miss with about 90 seconds to play.
All of the above conspired to doom the Wildcats to a loss they’ll remember for many reasons, chief among them offensive inefficiency.
K-State’s next task is a road test against Texas, set for Saturday afternoon.
That’s the Wildcats’ next opportunity to break out of the dry spell that surfaced against the Frogs.
“Hopefully,” Mittie said, “it will be because we’re working in the gym, getting shots and doing those things.”