Kansas State women’s basketball won once and lost twice in Cancun last week, but with three games in three days, the Wildcats received some much-needed answers early in the season.

“What I learned was that we’re more immature than I realized,” K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said Tuesday. “What I learned is that that’s going to take more time and I’m going to have to do a better job in that area. We were emotional at times and we weren’t as steady as we had to be.”

On Thanksgiving, the Wildcats led by four points early in the fourth quarter against then-No. 14 Syracuse, which has since risen to No. 12. Syracuse then went on a 20-2 run and downed K-State by nine points.

The next day, No. 16 DePaul drilled K-State by 20. The Wildcats trailed by 25 after a half, their largest halftime deficit since a game against Baylor on Jan. 25, 2017.

But in the final game, the Wildcats defeated Princeton to salvage the trip. After a delayed trip home due to the snowstorm that hit the Midwest, they’re back at practice with ample time to prepare for Vanderbilt, which comes to town Sunday for the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.

“What you start to have happen after six, seven, eight games is teams have so much film on you, they see a blueprint,” Mittie said. “If you don’t correct those weaknesses, people attack them much better than they did three or four games ago. We’ve got some things that we’re doing better, but we also have flaws that people are going to look to expose.”

K-State sits at 4-2. The positive the team took away from last week’s trip is that it faced top competition for the first time this season.

For an inexperienced group, that can be daunting.

But it can also help in the future.

“The level of understanding of what your teammate is going to do and how you can work together was really (accentuated) in some of those top teams, which is fun to watch, and hopefully we’re going to emulate that as the season goes along,” junior forward Peyton Williams said.

Added senior point guard Kayla Goth: “I mean, they make a lot of shots that you don’t expect them to make. You’re there, you have a hand in their face. But they’re used to taking those shots, they’re used to making those shots.

“It’s just the whole confidence thing. They play with a level of confidence that you’re like, ‘Wow, that’s impressive.’”

Syracuse shot 51.8 percent from the floor. While DePaul only shot 41.5 percent, it nailed nine first-half 3-pointers.

In terms of confidence, the big part of the trip for K-State was how it responded with an 80-61 win over Princeton after suffering two losses. Goth said it’s difficult to lose two in a row to begin a three-game tournament.

But when the Wildcats got to the locker room Saturday, they knew what they had to do.

Goth didn’t speak up first. Instead, it was forward Jasauen Beard who emphasized the team needing to buckle down for its final 40 minutes in Mexico.

In the victory, freshman Chrissy Carr scored a career-high 22 points. Sophomore Rachel Ranke dropped a season-high 15.

Another big-picture plus is Williams — who was in and out of basketball because of volleyball until the Cancun trip — leads the Wildcats in scoring with 14 points per game.

She’s been a steady presence, Mittie said, and it’s helped her teammates.

The Wildcats ran out of steam against a talented ‘Cuse squad. They couldn’t quite handle 40 minutes of DePaul’s press. But overall, Goth noticed a critical difference in the team’s offense.

“We’re definitely finding open people and we’re making the easier play,” she said. “I felt like we tried to make the superhero play a lot in our first couple games. And yes, some of them are good plays and some of them are good shots, but a lot of them we struggle to make and a lot of them we struggle to be successful with.”

Both Goth and Williams said it’ll be exciting to Vanderbilt (3-4) in Bramlage. It’ll be a new team with a new style, Goth added.

By then, the Wildcats will have had a string of practices where they will try to fix some areas teams may be able to exploit.

“I probably like it more than the players,” Mittie said, “but I think it’s critical for us to get on the floor and address these things.”

Sunday’s game against the Commodores tips off at 1 p.m., with ESPN3 airng a live stream.

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