Romero leads Wildcats past Sooners 86-78

(Photo by Chandler Riley | Collegian) Junior guard Ashia Woods looks to feed the ball inside to the post during Wednesday's game against the Oklahoma Sooners in Bramlage Coliseum.

The K-State women’s basketball needed a win to get back on track after having struggled in their past couple games. It took a 51 point second half, but on Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum, K-State knocked off the Oklahoma Sooners (13-8, 4-4 in Big 12) 86-78. The win moves the Wildcats to 9-11 for the season, and 3-6 in Big 12 play.

After the game, K-State head coach Deb Patterson said she was very pleased with her team’s ability to bounce back.

“That was K-State fight and K-State intensity,” Patterson said. “I felt like everyone was dialed in, and that is as good of a game as I can ask this team to play. I could not be any happier, not just about the victory, but about how we competed for 40 minutes.”

The Wildcats had huge nights from senior forward Katya Leick and freshman point guard Leticia Romero. Leick finished the game with 22 points, knocking down five 3-pointers. Romero was again great, totaling 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. Her playmaking ability was on full display from the beginning tip, and was highlighted by her play down the stretch that helped the Wildcats pull away from Oklahoma.

Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale spoke highly of Romero’s ability to draw contact and finish in traffic.

“She is a talented freshman,” Coale said. “She is a really good freshman. She ducks her head and goes to the rim and it is a free throw.”

While the K-State offense was great, the defense was impressive as well. Oklahoma senior guard Aaryn Ellenberg came into the game averaging nearly 20 points per game and led the Big 12 in 3-pointers made. Ellenberg finished with 16 points, but was limited to 1-10 from 3-point range. The Wildcat defense was suffocating, forcing Oklahoma into uncomfortable shots all night long.

K-State used a trio of guards to help disrupt Ellenberg and limit the damage. Junior Ashia Woods, freshman Kindred Wesemann and sophomore Brianna Craig all drew the assignment at different points in the game. Patterson said she felt all three stuck to the scouting report and did a great job forcing Ellenberg out of a rhythm.

“We [the coaches] know you are guarding a great player,” Patterson said. “I thought we did a great job with it. Every young lady that had the assignment did well. They defended extremely well by committee.”

Wesemann added 14 points, and knocked went 3-4 from behind the 3-point line. Woods finished the contest with 12 points, and drew an and-one with under 30 seconds to play to send the knock out punch to the Sooners. The win ends a 13-game losing streak to the Sooners, stretching back to 2004.

K-State finished 26-58 from the field (45 percent), but knocked down 11 of their 22 three point attempts. Additionally, the Wildcats hit 23 free throws (74 percent), and made nearly all their attempts at the charity stripe down the stretch as OU attempted to mount a comeback. Oklahoma finished 27-55 from the field (49 percent), but struggled from deep, going 4-19 (21 percent).

The Wildcats will look to keep the momentum going as they travel to Ames, Iowa on Feb. 1 to face Iowa State. K-State knocked off the Cyclones earlier in the season, and are hoping to extend their win streak to two games. If the Wildcats can continue to knock down shots, and lock in on the defensive end, they could begin putting together a very competitive resume for postseason play.