The K-State women’s basketball team has leaned heavy on their senior leaders time and time again this season. Wednesday was no different, and the seniors answered the call in their final regular-season game against in-state rival Kansas.
Seniors Haley Texada and Ashia Woods were big-time against the Jayhawks, as the Wildcats (16-11, 6-10) fended off a late run by Kansas (13-16, 4-12) to capture the regular season sweep of the Sunflower Showdown, 55-48.
“It was a hard game. Both teams missed so many shots; we missed so many opportunities,” K-State head coach Jeff Mittie told K-State Sports after the game. “But I thought our girls fought hard and did what they could.”
A slow start for both teams caused some issues early in the game.
Kansas turned the ball over 15 times in the first half as a result of the stingy defense of the Wildcats. K-State ended up forcing 23 turnovers on the evening, which led to 25 points.
The Jayhawks were without junior guard Asia Boyd who suffered a sprained ankle in Kansas’ 80-76 loss to Oklahoma State Saturday. Kansas only played eight players Wednesday. One of the players, junior forward Bunny Williams, played just one minute.
For K-State, sophomore guard Kindred Wesemann made her presence known, quieting the Allen Fieldhouse crowd with back-to-back 3-pointers to help the Wildcats jump out to an early 14-12 lead. Wesemann finished the night with 10 points.
K-State shot just 32 percent in the first half, but a late 8-0 run led by Texada, who hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helped K-State maintain a 22-19 lead. Sophomore forward Jessica Sheble then came off the bench and extended the lead to 28-21 at the intermission.
Sophomore standout Breanna Lewis dealt with foul trouble and cramping early, but was able to break the K-State single-season record for the most blocked shots in a single season (88). Lewis finished with five blocks on the game to go along with 12 points and five rebounds.
When Lewis was on the bench, Sheble picked up the slack and then some. She entered Wednesday’s contest averaging just 2.5 points per game. However, the hostile confines of Allen Fieldhouse fueled Sheble to a career-high nine rebounds to go along with nine points.
“We had a lot of things going for us,” Mittie said, “Jessica Sheble was huge off the bench. It gave us a big lift in the first half. I thought she did a great job.”
However, a six-and-a-half minute shooting slump for the Wildcats provided a chance for the Jayhawks to spoil K-State’s 16th win of the season.
Kansas used a 9-0 run late in the second half to retake the lead with 4:35 to play in the game. Junior forward Chelsea Gardner carried the Jayhawks with five points during the run. She finished the night with a double-double, scoring 15 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.
K-State, particularly their seniors, responded with a 10-0 run of their own. Texada and Woods combined for 12 points in the last four minutes to put K-State back on top for good. Texada iced the game with a circus shot near the basket with three minutes to play.
“Well, we couldn’t get anything on Gardner inside,” Mittie said. “She had been whooping us all night long, especially the second half. I felt like we needed more versatility out on the floor. Ashia made such great plays on her (Gardner) defensively, I mean, she had three steals in the last three minutes. She was just all over the floor. We’re fortunate she played so well.”
With the victory, K-State sweeps Kansas in the regular season for the first time since 2011-12. Mittie also recorded his 470th career win while jumping out to a 2-0 mark against the Jayhawks as the coach of the Wildcats.
K-State will hit the road for the final time this regular season. The Wildcats will travel to Forth Worth, Texas Saturday to take on the Horned Frogs. Mittie is 1-0 against his former team after K-State beat TCU in Manhattan two weeks ago.
Tipoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. from Fort Worth.