Wildcats take down Tigers in season opener 85-53


The K-State women’s basketball team officially opened up their season against the Tennessee State Tigers on Friday night. The Wildcats, who were armed with a larger than usual crowd due to a free bacon promotion, put together a solid game from start to finish, and defeated the Tigers 85-53.

K-State head coach Deb Patterson had said that going into the game she was nervous due to the uncertainly of some players due to injury. The starting line up featured two new faces in freshman forward Erica Young and freshman guard Kindred Wesemann. The young lineup looked to junior guard Haley Texada for leadership, and she stepped up in a big way. Texada finished with 15 points including five rebounds and a pair of assists and steals.

“There had to be a little bit of nervousness, since it was the first game,” Patterson said following the win. “We started with a lot of youth out there, but I have a great deal of confidence in [Texada]. She’s been through the wars, and is a great steading force and great communicator out there. It was definitely a young crew, but they were anchored out there by Haley.”

The Wildcats seem poised and undaunted by the scrappy Tennessee State team. Whenever the Tigers ramped up the pressure, K-State responded by increasing their focus and attacking the basket.

“I was very pleased with our overall intensity,” Patterson said after the game. “We played a lot of players, and I just feel really good about the mixture of youth and experience that we have right now.”

K-State stormed out of the gate on an 11-0 run and forced Tennessee Sate head coach Larry Joe Inman to call a timeout before the first media break. Senior forward Ashlynn Knoll rattled off eight straight points for the Wildcats in her first action since missing all of last season with a torn ACL. The Wildcats kept the Tigers at arm’s length for the rest of the half, heading into the break up 40-19. Perhaps the most impressive performance of the first half came from the Wildcat defense, which held Tennessee State to 6-34 shooting (17.6%).

“I thought we definitely improved from the first half to the second half with our rebounding effort, which was encouraging,” Patterson said. “I like the fact that this team came in at half time and improved in some areas that we wanted to address.”

The Tigers made adjustments at the half, hoping to capitalize on their quickness by attacking the basket off the dribble and picking up the Wildcats full court. The change gave Tennessee State life to open the half, helping them cut the lead to 14 at the eleven-minute mark. After a timeout by Patterson, K-State came out and finally pulled away from the Tigers for good, sending the knock out punch with a 14-0 run that featured four points from senior forward Chantay Carron. Freshman guard Leticia Romero was a catalyst all night for the Wildcats, finishing with 16 points, 7 rebounds, and 8 assists. Junior guard Haley Texada added 15 points, and seemed to hit big shots all night whenever the Wildcats needed a bucket.

The Wildcats played eleven players, and had eight log fifteen or more minutes. That is welcome change from last year’s squad that was limited to seven healthy players.

“It’s been fun to kind of have some variety to what we can put out there on the floor,” Patterson said.

K-State shot 53% from the field on the night, including 9-19 from three-point range (47%). The Wildcats were great at the other end of the floor as well, holding Tennessee State to 16-63 from the field (25%). Chelsea Hudson led the Tigers with 16 points, going 8-12 from the free-throw line. The Wildcats forced Tennessee State into 20 turnovers, but committed 20 turnovers themselves trying to beat the Tigers press.

The freshman class proved that they will be a critical part to this team. 50 combined points were contributed by the freshmen against the Tigers, including nine from Kindred Weseman and eight from Erica Young. Tennessee State lacked height on the inside, and K-State took advantage from the first tip.

At 1-0, the Wildcats will take only one day off before returning to action at 12:30 on Sunday against Charlotte. The game will be played at Bramlage Coliseum.