Although it was an exhibition game and the opening game for K-State women’s coach Jeff Mittie, his team had a regular-season-game kind of finish Monday night.
Facing a 50-49 deficit with 23 seconds left, forward Breanna Lewis sunk a free throw after a layup and foul, giving K-State the lead for good. The sophomore led all scorers with 14 points and eight rebounds in the 54-50 exhibition victory over Emporia State.
Offense was tough to come by as neither team built a lead greater than four points throughout the contest. In the first half, K-State shot just 9-for-29 (31 percent) from the field while Emporia State went into the break at just a 7-for-34 (21 percent) mark.
“At the beginning of the game I felt a little bit of frustration from missing a few early shots,” Lewis said of her individual struggles. “I just tried to clear my head as the game went on and start over each time and started playing better towards the end.”
Mittie was vocal in his disappointment toward the offensive numbers, pin-pointing issues with field goal percentage and free throws.
The Wildcats shot just 14-30 (46.7 percent) from the free throw line, including a 2-for-10 performance in the first half.
“We struggled all night offensively,” Mittie said. “We had some easy plays that we just could not make, but we will take it. We will take a look at the film and get better tomorrow.”
Emporia State was led by freshman guard Addie Lackey who went 6-for-13 from the field, scoring 17 points. The Lady Hornets also finished with 14 assists to K-State’s five total as well as out-rebounding Mittie’s squad 45-37.
“You have two sophomores and a freshman up here on the stage with me,” Mittie siad. “We have got some youth that we have to fight through, but they had a good look to them. Emporia did some really good stuff to us, which is really good for us to have to battle through.”
The Lady Hornets’ looked to give the final punch with 3-pointers from Lackey and guard Kyrstie Miller, but the Wildcats persevered with key rebounding in the final minutes of the game.
Down the final stretch, veteran backcourt leadership guided the win as sophomore guard Kindred Wesemann and senior guard Haley Texada orchestrated the offense in the final 30 seconds.
“Offensively, I thought we got frustrated and that affected our energy on the defensive end,” Mittie said. “I thought our leadership from Texada and Wesemann was good at the end of the game.”
With nine seconds left, starting freshman guard and Salina, Kansas native Shaelyn Martin helped ice the game with two crucial free throws.
“I thought she earned it,” Mittie said of awarding Martin with the start. “She comes in every day and works hard and has looked really good in our scrimmages.”
Martin said nerves and comfort were not an issue as she stepped to the free-throw line to seal the victory for the Wildcats.
“I actually felt pretty secure,” Martin said. “I have developed a great bond with my teammates. I did not feel like I had any pressure. We know how to take care of one another as a team and the older girls led me through it till the end.”