Last Saturday in K-State’s last home game against Baylor, senior guard Antoinette Taylor shed tears as she left the floor of Bramlage Coliseum for the final time. So many players at so many different levels of the game have felt the same emotions Taylor was feeling at that moment.
After contributing so much time, energy and effort to a program for so many years of your life, it hurts to take your final walk off the floor.
Three Wildcats took their final walk off the floor inside Bramlage, and one Wildcat was with the team for the final time. Although they came to Manhattan from different paths, at the end of the day, they can all say they ended their college careers in Manhattan.
Senior guard Bri Craig and Stacey Malone entered the program in 2012 as recruits of the Deb Patterson era.
Malone’s career was unfortunately shortened due to injuries. The Tyler, Texas, native played nine games in her freshman season before her career was ended due to an injury. Although she didn’t play, she stayed with the team as a student assistant.
Out of Lincoln, Nebraska, Craig made an impact on the team from day one. She started 34 games as a freshman for K-State. During her freshman season, she ranked fourth in school history for 3-point field goals made by a freshman and the most 3-point field goals made by a K-State freshman since the 2009-10 season.
Craig continued to score throughout the course of her career. Her career honors include making the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll six times, the 2013 Big 12 Academic All-Rookie Team and the 2014 and 2015 Academic All-Big 12 First teams.
Taylor came to K-State in the 2014-15 season as a transfer from State Fair Community College. During her time at K-State, she has been a solid contributor coming off the bench for head coach Jeff Mittie’s teams. Taylor was named to the Big 12 Commissioner’s Honor Roll twice.
The final senior, Megan Deines, is a native of Springfield, Missouri, but transferred to K-State this season from the University of Louisville. Deines has improved her game tremendously in her short time at K-State.
At Louisville, Deines averaged 3.9 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 0.7 steals per game, according to K-State Sports. At K-State, she is averaging 9.2 points, 2.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Deines has been a consistent starter for the Wildcats this season. She has postseason experience from Louisville that will come in handy as K-State charges toward the postseason.
Those four players have contributed to the constant improvement of K-State basketball. The Wildcats have improved their record every year since the 2013-14 season, and much of that can be accredited to what these players have contributed.
K-State will look for leadership from these seniors as they charge into postseason play. K-State sits at 18-11 and is on the border for a bid in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats will more than likely have to win at least one game in Oklahoma City in the Big 12 Tournament if they hope to make the NCAA Tournament.
It all gets started Saturday, and the Wildcats will, without a doubt, lean on their four seniors to help get them where they need to be.