Angela Harris smiled and laughed every time she hit the court while diving for a ball or taking contact in Kansas State’s 75-59 exhibition win over Washburn Tuesday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
Every time save for a lone instance in the fourth quarter.
Harris, a grad transfer from Houston, slashed to the basket on a fast break with three minutes left and made a contested layup through heavy contact. The ball fell softly off the glass and in as Harris sat directly under the basket with a serious look on her face. She flexed. Her Wildcat teammates screamed and cheered around her as Harris made one of the biggest momentum plays of the game.
“We had a little situation there where we let them take a lead,” Harris, who finished the game with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists, said after the game. “Situations like that, with an and-one, it’s energy. I’m excited and the team is excited and that was just what I was trying to do: get the team excited.”
The Wildcats pulled off a win in an unorthodox game. Three of the team’s top players didn’t play, so the Wildcats had to utilize freshmen who hadn’t gotten much practice time, as well as a player returning from a lengthy rehab.
Senior Peyton Williams has volleyball duties on the road against West Virginia on Wednesday, and Rachel Ranke, Christianna Carr and Emma Chapman were being disciplined.
“Emma, Rachel and Christianna, they procrastinated (on) something that I wanted everyone to get done before the season,” Wildcats head coach Jeff Mittie said. “They will play on Friday. They got it done; they just didn’t get it done when I asked them to get it done. I think the message is that we aren’t going to procrastinate (with) things.”
Those three, along with Williams, all will be available for the team’s final exhibition on Friday against Fort Hays State, but their absence put Kansas State in a bind.
The Wildcats had a 30-8 lead early in the second quarter, but fatigue set in and Washburn stormed back.
“We got off to a great start, loved the energy, loved the defense,” Mittie said. “I thought our group did a good job of getting after Washburn. We had trouble sustaining that. Foul trouble was impactful during that stretch. I think we lacked some discipline, but overall I liked what I saw. The fact that we responded when Washburn made the run on us, while I don’t like that happening, we will try to correct that and answer it better next time. But I liked the answer we gave in the fourth quarter.”
Washburn took a 42-41 lead with a little over four minutes left in the third quarter. The Wildcats’ freshman center Ayoka Lee battled foul trouble for much of the game, and picked up her fourth foul early in the second half.
But when Lee was on the court, she was a force, scoring 18 points and grabbing seven rebounds in her 20 minutes.
“The one thing that Ayoka does, which is a really good trait for a young person, a(is) she really doesn’t get frustrated,” Mittie said. “She still continues to talk, to rebound and be coachable. That allows her to come back in the game and she ends up with 18 and seven. Pretty good night. A lot of young players get frustrated and become their own worst enemies. She has a maturity to her that allows her to reset herself. She will grow from this game and learn from the foul trouble. It’s probably a good lesson for her early in her career.”
Cymone Goodrich hadn’t played for the Wildcats since November of last year. The third-year sophomore, who suffered a season-ending shoulder injury last season, was crucial in the Wildcats’ response rally against the Ichabods. She tallied 14 points and six rebounds in the game, leading a group of players who had to play significant minutes without much preparation in the preseason.
“If there is an area I am really proud of our group tonight, is that, while it didn’t always look pretty and there were certainly things that weren’t great out there, we had to figure out things on the fly tonight,” Mittie said. “I would say Cymone was certainly impactful in what she did tonight, but I was proud of a big group of players that played on the fly tonight.”
The Wildcats’ second and final preseason exhibition comes against Fort Hays on Friday. Tip off at Bramlage is set for 6:30 p.m.