Wildcats fall to Longhorns 69-63 despite second half surge

(Photo by Chandler Riley | Collegian) Freshman forward Jessica Sheble attempts to take a shot, but is blocked by Texas center Imani McGee-Stafford during the Wildcats’ 69-63 loss to the Longhorns on Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum.

For 40 minutes the K-State women’s basketball team went toe-to-toe with the Texas Longhorns. Though the Wildcats tied the game twice in the final 12 minutes, in the end it just wasn’t enough. K-State fell to the Longhorns 69-63 in front of nearly 4,100 fans, dropping their record to 9-14 overall and 3-9 in Big 12 play. The win pushes Texas’ overall record to 17-7, and gives them a Big 12 record of 8-4.

“In the first half, I thought we were a little inconsistent with our intensity,” Head coach Deb Patterson said after the game. “We aren’t shooting the ball well enough to not go get offensive rebounds. We have to give ourselves extra possessions.”

From the opening tip the storyline was Texas’ size inside, and whether or not K-State had the ability to handle it. The Wildcats are extremely young on the front line, which was evident as the Longhorns won the rebounding margin by 10 and finished with 36 points in the paint.

Even with the size differences, the Wildcats were within three points when Texas called a timeout with a little over 50 seconds to play. The Longhorns ran a set play on the baseline for senior guard Chassidy Fussell, who knocked it down to put the nail in the coffin.

“We ran a set that we had not run all night and have not run a whole lot recently,” said Texas head coach Karen Aston. “We had been running a lot of on-ball action, but they were not allowing us to do that, so we decided to run something with more screening action. Chassidy (Fussell) got a good shot in the corner – she made a good read.”

Senior forward Katya Leick, who finished with 13 points on 4-11 shooting, pointed to a lack of execution and inability to make shots as the reason for the loss. Patterson echoed her senior forward, saying Texas did a good job making the Wildcats take guarded shots.

“This type of game is really frustrating,” Leick said. “I feel like we didn’t execute on some of our plays. We had some spots where we were able to defend them, but we just didn’t score on the offensive end to get the momentum going.”

As a team the Wildcats shot only 38 percent, but stayed in the game by going 8-20 from behind the 3-point line. K-State has now made at least one 3-pointer per game in 234 consecutive regular season and postseason games dating back to Feb. 7, 2007. Living and dying by the 3-pointer has become an issue for the Wildcats, and it showed as Texas buckled down on the perimeter down in the final minutes.

“Shooting 19-50 is not going to win you many games,” Patterson said. “We have to make some more shots. Tonight I thought we had difficulty creating easy looks.”

Freshman standout guard Leticia Romero struggled to find a flow and consequently the Wildcat’s offense suffered. Romero finished just 2-10 from the field for eight points, and had five turnovers. Junior Ashia Woods was by far the night’s best player for the Wildcats, finishing 5-6 for 15 points and hitting two big 3-pointers that helped keep K-State in the game.

Postseason play is beginning to look more and more unlikely as K-State falls five games below .500. A conference tournament championship is beginning to look like the only option if the Wildcats want to play deep into March. Moving forward, the Wildcats will have two days of practice before hosting Texas Tech on Saturday in the annual “Pink Out” game that works to raise awareness for breast cancer. The game will be played at Bramlage Coliseum, and tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.