It was the last time that senior guards Antoinette Taylor, Megan Deines and Bri Craig would ever set foot on the floor inside Bramlage Coliseum. Saturday marked Senior Day for the three Wildcats as they faced the No. 4 Baylor Bears in their final game in Manhattan.
Early on, it looked as if the Wildcats had what it takes to pull off the monumental upset and possibly seal their spot in the NCAA Tournament; however, K-State just didn’t have enough gas in the tank to get it done.
The upset bid fell short for K-State by a final score of 52-63, and the Baylor Bears won their fourth straight Big 12 Championship.
“This game tells me how much better of a basketball team we are than we were a month ago, and I think we knew that,” K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said. “I thought our group battled. We just had trouble finding offense.”
Mittie could not have asked for a better way for his team to start the game Saturday. The Wildcats allowed Baylor to score just two points in the first five minutes of the game, taking a 12-2 lead over the No. 4 team in the country halfway through the first quarter.
The Bears, 29-1 overall and 16-1 in the Big 12, stopped the bleeding and closed the last five minutes on a 10-5 run. K-State only held a 17-12 advantage after the first quarter.
“We don’t know what they were running,” Baylor head coach Kim Mulkey said of K-State’s defense. “We were hoping you could tell us what they were running. They did that at our place, but what we did at our place was we made shots early, we didn’t get behind like we did here today and that just kind of deflated us.”
K-State’s defense held Baylor to just 38.5 percent from the floor in the first quarter. The Wildcats held junior forward Nina Davis, who came into Saturday’s contest averaging 15.8 points per game, to no points in the first 10 minutes. Davis, however, would not be denied for the entirety of the game. She finished with 14 points and four rebounds.
Baylor did not give into K-State’s early lead, however, and forced a Wildcat timeout just two minutes into the second quarter after opening up the half on an 8-2 run. The Bears took their first lead of the game at the 8:05-minute mark in the second quarter.
The lead changed hands four times throughout the remainder of the second quarter, but the Bears held a slight 30-27 lead headed into the halftime break.
One problem K-State faced in the first half, and the entire game, was finding balance scoring the ball. Three Wildcat players — junior center Breanna Lewis, junior guard Kindred Wesemann and Deines — scored all 27 of K-State’s points in the first half of the game. Seven Baylor players contributed points in the first 20 minutes.
Lewis finished the game with 20 points, Wesemann had 17 and Deines added 12.
“Yeah there’s no doubt,” Mittie said about the lack of scoring balance. “We did not have a group out there that had a good look. We had three out there that had a good look. We had Deines, we had (Lewis) and we had Kindred, and that’s evident by the stat sheet. Let’s give Baylor a lot of credit. They have a great awareness of what they need to do, and they did a little bit better of a job than we did today.”
With the exception of a 3-pointer from Bri Craig, the trio continued to be the only Wildcats who contributed on the scoreboard. The Wildcats scored 13 points, 10 from those three players, in the third quarter, whereas Baylor put up 20 and led K-State 50-40 with one quarter left.
K-State cut the lead to seven points with 3:40 minutes to play in the final quarter. Baylor proved to be too much to handle, though, and the Wildcats dropped their home finale 52-63.
The Wildcats, 18-10 overall and 8-9 in the Big 12, will look to end their regular season on a high note at 8 p.m. tonight when they travel to Stillwater, Oklahoma, to face the No. 22 Oklahoma State Cowgirls, who are 20-8 overall and 10-7 in the Big 12.