Wildcats start fast to finish off Jayhawks

Breanna Lewis, senior center, tries to block an inbound pass during the basketball game between K-State and Tulsa in Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 14, 2016. (File photo by Payton Heinze | The Collegian)

A Kansas State victory over visiting Kansas might have been expected Wednesday night. K-State, after all, entered the game 12-4 and ranked No. 25, while KU entered 6-9 overall and 0-4 in conference play.

That did not seem to distract the Wildcats though, even if the performance wasn’t as consistent as K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said he’d have liked in the team’s 73-60 win over Kansas Wednesday night.

“I don’t think that’s the reason (for the team’s inconsistency Wednesday),” Mittie said. “I have felt like our practices have been inconsistent but I don’t honestly feel like our group looks at people. They respect everybody I think.”

Senior center Breanna Lewis led the team with a double-double: 15 points accompanied by 10 rebounds, while senior guard Kindred Wesemann had 12 points and junior guard Karyla Middlebrook had 11 in the win.

Kansas head coach Brandon Schneider said he recognized the importance of Lewis to K-State’s play as a team.

“Lewis is really the foundation of everything they do,” Schneider said.

Lewis’ play was just one element of what was a strong team effort by the Wildcats that perhaps otherwise overshadowed a strong individual effort by Jayhawk redshirt-junior guard Jessica Washington.

Washington finished with a game high 31 points and six rebounds of her own.

“I thought Washington was fantastic tonight,” Mittie said. “Ten of 14, she has put up big numbers this year but she has also had to shoot a lot of shots to do it. Tonight she was very efficient. That’s the most efficient game I’ve seen her have, certainly in league play it definitely is, so she played fantastic.”

Senior guard Kelly Thomson was the only K-State player held scoreless as all 12 Wildcats saw action and all but three, Thomson among them, saw more then 10 minutes of playing time. Mittie said some of the bench players played well, while others didn’t.

“I think Kaylee Page has really continued to play well,” Mittie said. “Eternati (Willock) was not very good early, (she) played better when she came back in the second round. Goth struggled tonight but her line-score looks a little better, a little better activity, more Goth-like, she just struggled a little bit with the shot right now, so the bench was kind of sporadic kind of like we saw.”

In general, Mittie said he was not completely happy with how the team played.

“I thought the game was pretty inconsistent,” Mittie said. “Two big runs by us I think really made the difference. There were stretches I thought where we played great and there were stretches where I thought we played awful.”

In a deviation from many games this season, the Wildcats jumped ahead fast, starting the game on a 16-0 run in the first quarter. The Jayhawks didn’t even score until sophomore guard Kylee Kopatich drained a 3-pointer nearly six minutes into the 10-minute quarter. The Wildcats ended up taking a 22-9 lead into second.

Kansas improved as the game went on. In the second quarter, the Jayhawks shot 44 percent from the floor after shooting just 33 percent in the first quarter, and shot 50 percent from 3-point range in the second compared to hitting just 33 percent of their long shots in the first. The Wildcats, meanwhile, only hit 29 percent of their shots from the floor and 33 percent of their 3-pointers in the second. The difference allowed the Jayhawks to outscore the Wildcats 17-11 in the second quarter and enter halftime only trailing 33-26.

The Wildcats had another big offensive run in them though, and it took Wesemann exactly 11 seconds into the second-half to ignite it.

Wesemann drained a long 3-pointer with 9:49 remaining in the third quarter. It started what became a 10-0 run for the Wildcats which lasted more than two minutes. By the end of it the Wildcats led 45-26, and it proved too much for the Jayhawks to overcome even after they outscored the Wildcats 24-16 in the final frame.

The Wildcats next head to Stillwater, Oklahoma to take on the Oklahoma State Cowgirls at 4 p.m. Saturday.

Shelton grew up in the desert southwest. A native of Lancaster, California, he mostly grew up in south Phoenix, Arizona; Austin, Texas; and Colorado Springs, Colorado before moving to Kansas and graduating from Junction City High School. He started working as a news writer for the Collegian in 2009 before taking a three-year break from college. He returned to K-State in 2013 and has since worked for the news desk, feature desk, as a copy editor and now as a sports writer. He enjoys tap dancing, writing anything possible, reading court opinions and watching Arizona Coyotes hockey.