To finish the 2010-2011 regular season, the Wildcat women will take on their in-state rivals, the Kansas Jayhawks, Saturday at 6:30 p.m. in Lawrence.
With Wednesday’s victory over No. 5 Texas A&M, the Wildcats appear to have achieved their goal of making it into the NCAA Tournament at the end of the season. Against A&M, the Wildcats relied on sophomore guard Brittany Chambers, who scored a career-high 35 points in the shocking upset.
A big question mark that remained from that game was the status regarding junior forward Jalana Childs. Childs, the team’s second leading scorer, went out early in the contest with what appeared to be a tailbone injury and did not return. Her status is in question for Saturday’s game.
If the Wildcats are without Childs, it would present a huge problem for the team in its matchup against KU. The Jayhawks have relied on the strong post play of sophomore forward Carolyn Davis throughout the season. She is currently the team’s leading scorer with 18.6 points per contest.
In the teams’ last meeting, K-State was able to squeeze out a 65-60 victory in Bramlage Coliseum. During that game, the Wildcats were able to get Davis into foul trouble early in the contest, but sophomore guard Monica Engelman was able to keep the Jayhawks in the game until the very end. She scored 18 points and grabbed five rebounds.
If the Wildcats want to leave Lawrence with a victory, they will have to play better than they did last season. K-State had upset the nationally-ranked Jayhawks at home earlier in the year, but it was flat in the matchup in Lawrence and lost 70-60. Chambers was able to score 14 points, and sophomore guard Taelor Karr was able to add 10, but the Jayhawks used Engelman and Davis to harass the Wildcats all game. The Kansas duo led the team with 16 and 10 points, respectively. During the game, the Jayhawks shot a blistering 56 percent from the field.
To finish the regular season with a victory, the Wildcats will have to play better team defense than they did last season. To date, the team’s best strength has been its defense, but the Wildcats’ issue is playing strong defense for the entirety of the game. Piecing together a complete effort, especially if Childs is out, will be critical for the team’s success.
In addition to the need for strong defense, the Wildcats will have to have a team effort on offense again. Although Chambers and Childs are the team’s leading scorers, the Wildcats were able to use some bench production to keep pace with Texas A&M on Wednesday. Helping the Wildcats in that game were Karr and junior forward Branshea Brown. Brown, who took the majority of the minutes from Childs after she exited, scored 10 points and grabbed eight rebounds. Karr played nearly as well as Chambers did from the field. She scored 14 points on 6-of-9 shooting, grabbed three rebounds and forced three steals.
After the game, the Wildcats will enter into postseason play with the Big 12 Tournament. Currently, the team is looking at finishing in fourth place and hopes to receive a first-round bye in the tournament. Games begin on Tuesday and last until Saturday at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.