Better late than never is a saying that could perfectly describe the K-State women’s basketball team’s fifth win of the season.
The Wildcats defeated UT-Arlington 61-41 on Thursday night, improving their record to 5-1 on the year.
“I thought it was our best defensive performance on the year overall,” head coach Jeff Mittie said of K-State’s win. “The first three quarters we held them to 23, I thought that was pretty solid. We covered up on their shooters well. Wainwright and Cole were two emphasis for us, that they didn’t get loose. I thought our group had a great awareness tonight of where they were at.”
The game did not start off on the right foot for either team when six minutes into the game, K-State held only a 6-2 lead on the Mavericks, much to the credit of turnovers for both teams. In the first quarter alone, UTA had five turnovers and the Wildcats had three.
Junior guard Kindred Wesemann went two-for-two from the free-throw line with 3:31 in the first quarter and kickstarted the offense. She scored 5 points in the the first 10 minutes of the game. After one quarter, the Wildcats held a 15-6 advantage on the Mavericks.
The second quarter struggled to see much offense until the game reached the two-minute mark of the quarter. Both teams swapped baskets early on in the quarter. Maverick junior guard Kamy Cole hit a 3-pointer at the 9:08 mark for UTA, and then Wildcat senior guard Megan Deines hit an elbow jumper at the 7:44 mark for K-State.
The game went into a scoring drought after Deines’ shot, as neither of the two teams would score any points until K-State sophomore forward Kaylee Page knocked down a shot with just 1:57 to play in the half.
This poor offensive production again was to the credit of neither team being able to keep the ball in their possession. There were seven turnovers from UTA and six from K-State, totaling 21 turnovers between the two teams in just one half of basketball.
Mittie went to the locker room at halftime, visibly unhappy with his team’s performance. The halftime break would change things for K-State and specifically Wesemann. She scored 8 points in the third quarter alone in route to scoring 19 total points. She also contributed four rebounds.
“I don’t really remember what (Mittie) said at halftime,” Wesemann said. “I just feel like I’m more confident in my decision making and I just stepped up and hit some shots.”
The Wildcats scored 20 points in the third quarter and led UT-Arlington 45-23 with only one quarter to play.
With the game all but in hand, Mittie was allowed to give minutes to players who don’t typically see much time in the games. The Wildcats still won the final quarter by a score of 18-16, despite not having their typical lineup in the game. The extra time off for his starters is something that Mittie said will be crucial for his team, however, as Thursday was the first of a three-game series spanning over five days.
“We’re aware that we have three games in five days, so some of that is we didn’t want them to play long stretches if they didn’t have to tonight,” Mittie said. “Fortunately for us, we didn’t have to. Tough part was that we had some droughts, good part was that we got some players some good minutes tonight. We got some players some rest that’ll need it, and we got some players some minutes that needed it.”
K-State will continue their rigorous five-day challenge on Saturday at 2 p.m. in Chicago to face Chicago State at the Jones Convocation Center.