After the Wildcats’ 73-65 win against Charlotte Sunday in Bramlage Coliseum, K-State freshman guard Leticia Romero said she’s still adjusting to everything from being in a new country to the new style of basketball.
If that’s true, future K-State opponents are in for a handful once Romero is fully acclimated. The guard from Las Palmas, Spain netted 25 points against the 49ers, shooting 7 of 7 from the field while also leading the Wildcats with eight rebounds and three assists.
“If you’re tough, if you got the skills, and you’re willing to take the load and still be a team player, you got the chance to be really great,” K-State head coach Deb Patterson said of Romero. “At this early part of the season, she’s balancing those aspects really well.”
Romero’s production was key as no other Wildcat scored more than nine points. Junior guard Haley Texada, who had scored 15 points in the Wildcats’ season opening win against Tennessee State, scored only seven points in 19 minutes against the 49ers due to foul trouble.
K-State dominated early on, starting the game on a 15-0 run and building a 24-point lead by the 8:50 mark of the first half.
The lead helped the Wildcats’ survive 24 turnovers for the game, which resulted in 22 points for the 49ers.
“I didn’t like the turnover numbers, obviously,” Patterson said. “I thought that was a lot of mental mistakes and lack of fundamentals that we’re trying to work through with our younger players. I was really pleased with our start. I thought we had good energy, good rhythm. I liked the tempo we were playing at.”
The 49ers battled back, fueled by three 3-pointers and 10 free throws in the final nine minutes of the first half to go into halftime down 39-28.
“That’s part of the challenge is being able to sustain [a large lead],” Patterson said. “We’ve got to learn to sustain things a little better as much on the defensive end as on the offensive end.”
The flow of the game slowed down in each half, which Patterson said was a result of the 58 fouls called between the two teams.
“The flow for young players in particular is challenging,” Patterson said of the effect of the new hand-check rule in college basketball. “It’s tough but everyone will adjust and ultimately it will be a good thing.”
Texada picked up her fourth foul about a minute into the second half, putting much of the second half pressure on Romero.
Yet Romero didn’t slow down and scored 13 of her total points in the second half.
“She is beyond her years in her feel for the game and the quality of plays she’s bringing to the table,” Patterson said.
The 49ers put one last charge together after letting an eight-point deficit early on in the second half grow to a 17-point deficit with just more than 10 minutes to play.
The charge weakened K-State’s lead to under 10 points for the final four minutes of the game. The low was reached at a four point lead with 16 seconds to play before Texada iced the game with four free throws in the final 13 seconds.