Women’s basketball travels to Waco

Emily DeShazer | The Collegian Freshman guard Leticia Romero puts pressure on UC Santa Barbara freshman point guard Onome Jemerigbe in transition on Dec. 15, 2013 at Bramlage Coliseum. Transition defense will be important for the Wildcats tonight against the Baylor Bears.

The K-State women’s basketball team will be in Waco, Texas for a battle with No. 12 Baylor Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Wildcats (8-9, 2-5 in Big 12 play) have won two straight conference games, and are looking for another marquee win. Baylor (14-3, 5-1 in Big 12 play) is fighting to stay atop the conference standings, and extend its streak of 17 straight wins over the Wildcats. The Bears won the last meeting between the two teams by a score of 92-63 on Jan. 2 in Manhattan.

The featured matchup will be in the backcourt between two of the best guards in the Big 12. K-State freshman guard Leticia Romero, who dropped a career-high 27 points in last week’s win over No. 11 Iowa State, paces the Wildcats at nearly 15 points per game, while also adding six rebounds and five assists. On the other side stands is senior guard Odyssey Sims, regarded by many as the best scoring guard in the country. Sims currently averages an NCAA best 30.1 points per game, and is well on her way to becoming a three-time All-American.

The Wildcats will hope for big games from Katya Leick and Ashia Woods. Senior forward Leick is also fresh off a career high 23 points against Iowa State, and has been a steady contributor for K-State all season. Woods currently averages 11 points and five rebounds per game, and the junior guard can be a difficult matchup for teams with her size and quickness.

Statistically, the Bears are one of the most impressive teams in the NCAA. Baylor averages 90.1 points per game, and currently holds a plus-14 rebound margin per game. Couple that with an offense that averages over 20 assists per game, and you realize how potent the Baylor offense can be. Sims and company look to get out in transition and push the tempo, chucking up shots and splashing 3-pointers almost at will. Sims has attempted 374 field goals on the year, and is hitting a mind-boggling 43 percent from behind the arc.

The Bears are coached by Kim Mulkey, who is in her 14th season with Baylor. Mulkey has led Baylor to three straight Big 12 conference titles, and 12 NCAA tournament appearances. The Bears won the National Championship in 2005 and 2012.

If the Wildcats hope to grab the upset on the road, they will need to be on the defensive end. K-State cannot afford to give the Bears two or three shots each possession, and must crash the boards collectively every chance they get. The focus of the defense will be primarily on Sims, but she is too good to completely shut down. The Wildcats will also need to limit the Bears’ supporting cast to difficult shots and just hope to corral Sims.

A conference road win is difficult no matter who the opponent is. Asking the Wildcats to travel to Waco and upset Baylor is a tall task, but definitely something they can achieve. The Bears have lost two straight games, and are struggling to find a rhythm. If the Wildcats play defense and hit some timely shots, they might just have a chance to steal an upset.