The pink uniforms and shirts throughout Bramlage Coliseum Sunday afternoon were not the only changes to the typical outing for the Wildcats. With senior point guard Shalee Lehning out due to mononucleosis, head coach Deb Patterson was forced to alter her starting lineup against Oklahoma State.
With a decision on her hands, Patterson made the call to have freshman Jalana Childs make her first career start.
Childs answered the call in the form of her first double-double, scoring 14 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. With the effort, Childs helped guide the Wildcats (20-3, 7-3 Big 12 Conference) to a 79-71 victory over the Cowgirls (14-9 3-7 Big 12).
“I think I just had a lot of energy; I was pumped for my first start,” Childs said. “I think the energy played a big factor in it.”
With the win, the Wildcats moved their home record to a perfect 11-0 on the season.
The Wildcats had four players finish with double figures in scoring, despite the new lineup. Junior forward Ashley Sweat led the game with 31 points, tying her career high. Childs followed with 14, senior guard Kelsey Nelson added 13, points and senior forward Marlies Gipson scored 10 points.
“I think it’s really neat when you have an opportunity to work on things for a week and find a way for an individual or couple individuals to step up. I think we did that,” Patterson said.
Patterson attributed the her team’s ability to adjust to the new lineup to the week of practice following the Baylor loss. The Wildcats had a bye week to prepare for the Cowgirls on Sunday, and the extra time proved to be valuable.
“[Childs] had a great week of practice,” Patterson said. “She really has had some very, very strong showings in practice over the course of the last three weeks or so, but not nearly as dominant as this past week. She had a big time game tonight when the need was tremendous.”
The Wildcats struggled offensively in the first half, shooting 38 percent from the field on 31 shot attempts. The Cowgirls kept the Wildcats at their heels, and the two teams traded leads on 13 occasions.
The Wildcats struggled in the first half to score in the post; however, Nelson was 3-3 from behind the three point line. The team shot 6-13 from 3-point territory.
“[Oklahoma State] gave [K-State post players] a lot of attention, which opens up the outside shot, and luckily today they were going in,” Nelson said.
K-State used a 10-3 run early in the second half to separate from the Cowgirls. Childs and Sweat scored the bulk of their points in the second half when the post game of K-State began to open up. The Wildcats outscored the Cowgirls 43-36 in the second half.
K-State will travel to Missouri on Wednesday. The Wildcats defeated the Tigers in Manhattan 58-54 on Feb. 4. Tipoff Wednesday is set for 6:30 p.m.