Women’s basketball dominated by experience of West Virginia

(Photo by Emily DeShazer | Collegian) Wildcats and Mountaineers dive for a loose ball during K-State's 61-40 loss to West Virginia Saturday in Bramlage Coliseum.

The K-State women’s basketball team couldn’t stop the rolling No. 13 West Virginia Mountaineers in a rematch of their blowout loss earlier this month, falling 61-40. K-State (10-16, 4-11 Big 12) couldn’t stop the experience and poise of West Virginia as they lost their fifth home game of the season. The Mountaineers (24-3, 13-2 Big 12) took command early after conceding a six-point lead to the Wildcats to start the game, and continued to stifle the Wildcats throughout the game and limit any form of a comeback.

The Mountaineers were led by senior guard Christal Caldwell, who had 21 points and five rebounds. The Wildcats were led by senior forward Ashlynn Knoll, who had 13 points in her second double-digit performance of the season. Freshman guard Leticia Romero, who had eight points on the night, failed to get into double digits for only the fifth time in a Big 12 conference game.

After scoring the first six points, the Wildcats ended the first half on the wrong side of a 28-11 run that seemed to take the air out of the team. During the Mountaineers’ run, the Wildcats couldn’t get their offense going. They managed to get to the line multiple times, but couldn’t manage to get the shots to drop. K-State could have used these opportunities to spark their downtrodden offense in the first half.

“There was a segment in the first half that we went almost seven minutes without a basket and we kind of just held back the bleeding,” K-State head coach Deb Patterson said after the game. “We talked at halftime about the fact that if you make the free throws that you’ve been offered and make your one-and-ones and twolayups, you go (into halftime down) 32-33, but that’s the difference.”

Patterson’s team did, however, out-rebound the Mountaineers in the first half, 16-15. West Virginia head coach Mike Carey did acknowledge that the Wildcats limited the effectiveness of the Mountaineer post players,

“Give them credit, they played hard,” Carey said after the game. “They had a great game plan, they tried to take our bigs out, and went small at times.”

The Wildcats finished the night shooting 27.1 percent from the field, a mark that pales in comparison to the 43.6 shooting percentage posted by the Mountaineers. The Wildcats had a hard time defending West Virginia close to their basket, allowing 26 points in the paint.

“Sometimes you just have to make a shot now and then,” Patterson said. “It seems that the timing was such that we would miss a shot that everyone in the building thought that it was a good look and (the Mountaineers) would capitalize.”

Patterson said she still thought that her team brought a spark to the court against one of the elite teams in the NCAA.

“There’s no question that we lined up against one of the best teams in America,” Patterson said. “I thought we played with a lot of fight today and with that intensity that we had hoped to bring to the floor.”

The Wildcats will next be in action on Wednesday when they travel to Lawrence to take on in-state rival Kansas in the first of two games on the road. The Wildcats’ next home game will be next Monday, when they take on TCU for senior night in the season’s final home game.