Angela Harris looked lost.
The senior guard sat near the end of the Kansas State bench with her arms resting across her knees and a green Gatorade cup clasped between her lips. Her eyes were staring out onto the Bramlage Coliseum floor where moments earlier the shot she heaved up as time expired was met with nothing but air.
Harris looked lost, as did the Kansas State women’s basketball team’s offense for large portions of the second half of Wednesday’s 54-52 loss to Texas Christian.
After flying to an early lead, which grew to as much as 12 points in the second quarter, the Wildcats (12-12, 6-7 Big 12) came crashing down to Earth as the clock wore on in the later stages of the game.
“We had our opportunities,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “We did a good job that last minute to give ourselves chances and opportunities, and we just couldn’t make one more play.”
Early on, K-State found success through Ayoka Lee’s hands. The freshman recorded her 15th double-double of the season by the time the first half ended, with 16 points and 13 rebounds to go along with four blocks. It appeared she was destined for a career night in the Wildcats’ upset bid of TCU (19-5, 10-3 Big 12).
However, the offensive strategy that worked so well for K-State in the first half was nowhere to be seen in the second half. The Wildcats were unable to draw Lee’s defender away from her and saw multiple lobbed passes swatted away by a helping defender. Lee recorded just six points and four rebounds in the half.
TCU also locked down reigning Big 12 Player of the Week Peyton Williams for the majority of the game. The K-State senior finished the game with nine points and four rebounds.
With both of its leading scoring options locked away by the Horned Frogs’ defense, K-State was unable to generate any momentum through its guard play. TCU, which went 2-for-14 from 3-point range, actually won the battle beyond the arc, as the Wildcats managed to make just one of their 13 3-point attempts.
“I don’t necessarily have an answer for that,” Mittie said of his team’s struggles from deep. “Confidence. You’ve got to be able to shoot it with confidence. … It’s just one of those things that one day it’ll break out and you won’t necessarily know why.”
As the Wildcats’ shooting woes continued, the Horned Frogs started to heat up. Lauren Heard, who leads TCU in scoring with 17.9 points per game, found her stride. The senior scored 18 points in the second half, five of which came from the free throw line and finished with 25 points.
“She started to realize that she has to get to the rim so she can get to the line because that’s her game,” forward Jasauen Beard said. “We just didn’t keep her off the line like the game plan was.”
Still, the Wildcats hung in on the back of their defense. With six seconds remaining, K-State had a chance down two to either win or tie the game on an inbounds play in TCU’s half of the court.
It was clear the Wildcats wanted to get the ball to Lee. However, the Horned Frogs boxed her in from the start, forcing the ball to Harris on the perimeter. With a defender in her face, Harris air-balled her 3-point attempt as time expired.
Wednesday’s game is the third-straight contest in which the final score has come down to one possession. However, it was the first of that stretch in which both Lee and Williams were been cordoned off for long periods of the game.
As defenses close in on the forward and center duo, the Wildcats will need to find ways to score from the perimeter. On Wednesday night, K-State didn’t have any alternatives.
“Offensively was where the struggles continued of how do we find points,” Mittie said. “I think they were crowding. I think they were very physical with our centers down there. I still think we’ve got to do a better job of playing in tight spaces and get the ball in tight spaces.”