The Indiana State Sycamores stunned the K-State Wildcats with a 77-73 win Saturday night, snapping a 29-game home winning streak against nonconference opponents.
While the end was hotly contested, the Sycamores (1-0) led most of the game by double digits behind the play of senior guard Kelsey Luna, who scored a career-high 37 points on 15-of-21 shooting. The senior also surpassed the 1,000 career points milestone Saturday night.
“We were kind of joking before the game that if she scored 18 points and was able to break the record then we felt that we would be in a good position,” said Sycamore head coach Jim Wiedie. “We were just hoping that someone else could help her out with that.”
The Wildcats were led by seniors Kari Kincaid and Ashley Sweat, who each scored 16 points and led a K-State rally in the closing minutes. Sophomore Jalana Childs and junior Shalin Spani were also in double figures.
With less than four minutes to play and trailing by 14 points, the Wildcats (0-1) put together a full-court press helping them cut into the Sycamore lead. At the two-minute mark, the Wildcats pulled within nine points. With a minute to play, the Wildcats cut the lead to seven with a three pointer from Kincaid. After a defensive rebound, Spani was fouled and converted one of two free throws, cutting the lead to six.
Short on time, the Wildcats had to foul and the Sycamores knocked down both free throws, extending their lead to eight. K-State answered back with a Sweat layup out of a timeout to cut the lead to six again and forced a turnover on the ensuing inbounds play. Sweat had another layup to cut it to four, but the Wildcats ran out of time and got no closer.
“I was pleased to see us put ourselves in position to at least be back in the game, but it was too big of a hole, obviously,” said head coach Deb Patterson. “Close just doesn’t get it done.”
The Wildcats got off to a slow start from the opening tip, with the Sycamores starting the game with six unanswered points. From there it got worse, as the Sycamores raced to a 17-3 lead. The two teams traded baskets from there, ending the half with Indiana State on top, 35-21. The Wildcats shot 20 percent from the field in the first half while the Sycamores shot 47 percent. Also, hurting the Wildcats was a lack of scoring from their seniors, with Sweat scoring only on two free throws right before halftime and Kincaid going scoreless in the first half.
The second half started much like the first half finished, with the Sycamores building on their lead with an 8-3 run to open the half. The Wildcats showed some signs of life when they cut Indiana State’s lead to make it 47-34, but soon found themselves down by 20 points behind the play of Luna before making their final push in the last five minutes.
Notes: Spani and freshman guard Brittany Chambers both made their first career starts as Wildcats. The season-opening loss is the first since the ’03-04 season. The loss also breaks a streak of 10 wins in home openers.