It wasn’t tough for senior point guard Shalee Lehning to look past the Wildcats’ performance on the court Sunday afternoon. Her team quickly pushed its first home loss of the season past them, gathered at center court and embraced the opportunity to celebrate a teammate’s prolific career while Lehning’s jersey was lifted to the Bramlage rafters.
As Lehning put it, she was concerned with the bigger picture.
“I was just determined to try and truly take in this day and all that it stands for,” Lehning said. “These things just don’t happen everyday.”
Prior to Lehning’s ceremony, her team fell to No. 12 Texas A&M 71-45. The Wildcats (21-6, 8-6 Big 12 Conference) fell behind early in the first half as the physical Aggies (22-5, 9-5 Big 12) mounted a 17-0 run to take a 22-7 lead with nine minutes remaining in the first half.
“The first half was just a struggle for us because their defense was terrific and our offense was not on par with a top ten team,” head coach Deb Patterson said.
The Wildcats fought back following the Aggie run as junior guard Kari Kincaid ended an eight minute K-State shooting drought with two consecutive three pointers.
Yet as they did for the entire night, the Aggies would answer with a stronger punch as they continued to hit shots and entered the halftime break leading the Wildcats 38-21.
“Texas A&M, in every situation where they needed to hit a shot, had players step up and hit the shot they needed,” Patterson said.
K-State would make a push in the second half as it came out and shot significantly better than the previous 20 minutes.
The Wildcats began the half with an 8-2 run as the post play began to open up and Patterson offense finally found a rhythm.
“It really took us 20 minutes to gather ourselves and begin to find opportunities to exploit their defense,” Patterson said.
The second half offensive surge by the Wildcats would cut the Aggie lead to nine after junior forward Ashley Sweat drove for a layup with 14:32 remaining.
However, that would be as close as the Wildcats could get to the Aggies, as senior point guard Takia Starks would take control of the Aggie offense.
The Wildcats will close their home schedule on Wednesday night as they host No. 17 Texas. Prior to the game, Lehning and the senior class will be honored before playing in their final game at Bramlage Coliseum.
Tipoff for Wednesday’s senior night is set for 7 p.m.