Some might describe it as an ugly win – but as the old saying goes, a win is a win. And win is exactly what the K-State women’s basketball team did when they escaped from the grasp of South Dakota on Thursday night during overtime by a score of 84-81.
It would take the Wildcats three minutes in the opening quarter before they got their first points of the game from junior guard Kindred Wesemann. South Dakota took a 6-2 lead at the under five media timeout. But K-State would fight back and get shots to fall and snuck out of the first quarter with a 15-9 lead.
“It didn’t start off very good,” head coach Jeff Mittie said of his team’s slow start to the game. “I’ve said this numerous times about our group. I’m concerned with how much we want to come out and, I hate to use a boxing term, but laying the first blow. I feel like I’m constantly whipping them to play harder right now and that’s driving me crazy quite honestly.”
It looked as if K-State was going to pull away from the Coyotes in the second quarter as they carried a 27-18 lead at the 4:56 mark in the quarter, but South Dakota came back with 14 unanswered points to go up on K-State 32-27 with just a minute left. In the final minute, the two teams would swap 3-pointers, but South Dakota knocked down two free throws before the end of the quarter and took a 37-30 lead over K-State into halftime.
The second half turned favorable for K-State after a South Dakota technical foul with 6:42 in the third quarter. Trailing the Coyotes 43-39, a technical foul was assessed to the South Dakota bench which put Wesemann at the line. The junior sunk both shots from the charity stripe and cut the Coyote lead down to two points and the Wildcats maintained possession.
K-State went on a 7-0 run after the technical foul free throws, before junior Caitlin Duffy hit a 3-pointer for South Dakota to stop the Wildcat rally and make the score 48-46 in favor of K-State.
“I thought we played well after that,” Mittie said of South Dakota’s bench technical. “I don’t know if the technical had so much to do with that from our end. Maybe from their end, but I don’t know as if from our end I didn’t see a surge in us because of that.”
After a few baskets for each team, Wesemann sunk two free throws with five seconds in the quarter and the Wildcats led the Coyotes 58-51.
K-State would improve their lead to 61-51 early in the fourth quarter, but the Coyotes rallied once again. K-State had it trimmed down to three points at 65-62 when they lost senior guard Megan Deines to a left ankle injury.
“I think it’s just a pretty good ankle sprain, but I don’t have an update,” Mittie said.
South Dakota came down the floor trailing K-State 69-67 with only one minute in the fourth quarter, when they were called for a charging foul giving the ball back to the Wildcats.
After being fouled on the next possession, sophomore Shaelyn Martin went one of two from the free-throw line, only giving K-State a 70-67 cushion. South Dakota inbounded the ball near their own goal and threw up a 3-point shot. Senior Nicole Seekamp was fouled in the act of shooting and was given three free throws to try and tie the game. She made all three and forced the game into overtime.
The game was never in-hand for the Wildcats until the final buzzer. Early on in overtime, they led 74-70, but South Dakota continued their three-point shooting success and took a 76-74 lead.
South Dakota would have a change to tie the game trailing 82-79 with eight seconds, but instead elected to shoot a layup rather than a three pointer.
“I was (surprised that South Dakota went for two),” Mittie said. “With the amount of time on the clock … I was surprised that in overtime, under ten seconds, we got them inside the arc.”
On the next inbound, K-State would get fouled and made both free throws making it 84-81. South Dakota threw up a prayer at the buzzer but it fell short of the goal and the Wildcats escaped with a win in overtime.
The win advanced K-State’s record to 3-0 on the year. Their next game will be a challenge as they travel to the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut to take on the No. 1 and three-time defending national champions UConn Huskies. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. on Monday.