Defense propels K-State women’s basketball to 17th win

Senior guard Megan Deines looks up at the time counting down on the clock on Dec. 7, 2015 at Bramlage Coliseum. K-State beat UT Rio Grande Valley 61-43. (File Photo by Rodney Dimick | The Collegian)

On Sunday afternoon, the K-State women’s basketball team participated in the “Play 4Kay” game, an initiative to raise awareness for breast cancer and to honor former North Carolina State University women’s basketball head coach, Kay Yow.

The event featured K-State head coach Jeff Mittie sporting a pink suit vest and a pair of pink Nike shoes. Mittie said he has yet to lose while wearing the color.

“I believe in really good defense and really good offense,” Mittie said. “I’m much more superstitious about those things than anything wardrobe related, but I will say that I am undefeated in the pink vest so this will go back in the closet until there’s either a prom that I have to go chaperone or another pink game.”

Maybe it wasn’t the pink clothes that made the difference in K-State notching its 17th win of the season — it was probably more the Wildcats’ defense and what actually took place in the game.

Nonetheless, the Wildcats defeated Texas Tech, who is 11-15 overall and 2-13 in Big 12 play, and improved their record to 17-9 overall and 7-8 in the conference.

“I thought it was a good performance,” Mittie said. “Defensively, I really liked us in the first half. I thought we had good recognition, awareness and I thought we had a really good idea of where (Ivonne) CookTaylor was at all times, which was an emphasis for us.”

Red Raider CookTaylor was held to just six points on the day, which was below her average of 14.2 points per game upon entering the contest. The lockdown defense on CookTaylor was just one of the highlights of K-State’s defensive efforts.

The Wildcats dominated the first quarter overall on both sides of the ball. Their defense held Texas Tech to just 10 points in the first quarter on 28.6 percent shooting from the floor.

The solid defense turned into a strong offense for the Wildcats. They connected on 46.7 percent of their shots and took a 20-10 lead after the first quarter.

“K-State makes it difficult changing up defenses as much as they do by showing different zones,” Texas Tech head coach Candi Whitaker said after the game.

The Wildcats leaned on their defense in the second quarter to build on their 10-point lead. K-State held Texas Tech to just six points in the first seven minutes of the game and had a 29-16 lead when the Raiders called a timeout with 3:13 minutes left in the quarter.

The Wildcats did not find the same success on the offensive side of the floor as they did on the defensive side in the second quarter. K-State outscored the Raiders by a mere four points, shooting 35.3 percent from the floor. The Wildcats still found themselves with a 36-22 lead at halftime, however.

Although K-State struggled to shine offensively, they did find production from junior center Breanna Lewis.

Lewis totaled 14 points on the day, 12 of which came in the first half, and shot 44 percent. Notably, Lewis shot 60 percent from the free-throw line, which was an improvement.

“I tried to change some things from before,” Lewis said about her free throw shooting. “Just getting back into the rhythm of shooting free throws because I didn’t know what was wrong. I feel like it was the fact that I wasn’t getting enough free throws and so now I just incorporate more free throws into and out of practice.”

Both teams found more success from the field in the third quarter, shooting 45.5 percent each. Although they both shot the same percentage, K-State totaled more points, and the Wildcats built a 55-33 lead heading into the fourth quarter.

This 22-point lead will probably be forgotten as a result of the fourth quarter, though. Mittie chose to use the last quarter to rest his main players, allowing his reserves time to play.

Texas Tech outscored K-State 20-10 in the fourth quarter, cutting the 22-point deficit to just 12 points at the final buzzer.

Sunday was the first of four games K-State will play in eight days. The Wildcats will travel to Ames, Iowa, on Wednesday to play Iowa State at 7 p.m. The Cyclones are 13-13 overall and 5-10 in the Big 12.