Lady Cats win in first round of NCAA Tournament

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ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Senior forward Marlies Gipson scored a game high of 18 points and senior point guard Shalee Lehning broke a school record for assists in an NCAA tournament game with 13 as the Wildcats cruised to a 68-44 victory over the Drexel Dragons Monday evening at “The Pit” in Albuquerque, NM.

The Dragons were without the assistance of their leading scorer, Gabriela Marginean, for the majority of the first half after she picked up two quick fouls in the first five minutes of the game without scoring.

Marginean, the Colonial Athletic Association preseason player of the year, remained on the Dragon’s bench for the rest of the first half.

“I thought it was a huge factor in this game,” K-State head coach Deb Patterson said of the absence of Marginean. “Anytime you lose somebody early in the game of this magnitude, it puts a lot of pressure on everyone else and changes the flow a little bit.”

Following the benching of Marginean, K-State proceeded to mount an 9-0 run and regain the momentum it lost during the first five minutes of the game in which it fell behind the Dragons 6-0.

The Wildcats continued to build momentum as the first half came to a close and they headed into the halftime leading 26-19.

Marginean would, however, make her return in the second half, yet the Wildcats would find their stroke from behind the arc as junior guard Kari Kincaid opened the final 20 minutes with a deep 3-pointer from the wing. Marginean made her presence known by scoring all of her 15 points in the second half.

“I was really pleased with perimeter shooting in the second half,” Patterson said. “It was really neat to see it open up for us in the second half. I really appreciate the confidence and aggressiveness that Kelsey Nelson, Dani [Danielle] Zanotti, and Kincaid brought to the floor.”

K-State shot 6-11 from beyond the arc in the second half, and that perimeter shooting proved to shut down the Drexel zone defense and propelled the Wildcats to a convincing 68-44 finish against the Dragons.

The Wildcats are scheduled to return to action on Monday as they face the fourth seeded Vanderbilt Commodores at “The Pit.”

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