The Kansas State Wildcats women’s basketball team upset the No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners Tuesday night in Bramlage Coliseum, beating the Sooners 79-71. It was the highest ranked team the Wildcats had beaten since Jan. 1, when they beat the West Virginia Mountaineers in Bramlage.
The Sooners never led, but Tuesday night’s game, which seemed like a route early, ended up being a battle late.
“I told (the team) before the game I think this will be one of the most fun games we’ve played all year,” Kansas State head coach Jeff Mittie said. “I think this will be as intense and big a battle, both teams playing for a lot. That’s what you ask for as coaches, is to have meaningful games being played late in February, early in March, and we’re in that stage right now.”
Junior guard Karyla Middlebrook led the Wildcats with 19 points. Senior center Breanna Lewis also had a strong game, with 18 points, eight rebounds and a block.
Senior guard Kindred Wesemann had 13 points, and freshman forward Eternati Willock had 10.
It was the second time this season Middlebrook had a strong game against the Sooners, but she said it was nothing especially deliberate on her part.
“It’s just kind of how it fell,” Middlebrook said.
Intentional or not, Middlebrook’s effect on the game was noticeable, just as her 27 points were noticeable when the Wildcats lost in overtime to Oklahoma earlier this season.
“I thought Kansas State played really really well,” Oklahoma head coach Sherri Coale said. “I thought they did a great job, and we continue to make Middlebrook an all-star. She’s had her two biggest games in conference play against us.”
The game started with red-hot shooting by both teams. The Sooners shot 55 percent from the floor while the Wildcats shot 50 percent from it. The Wildcats were also 3-5 in the first quarter beyond-the-arc, compared to the Sooner’s 0-1, and 5-5 from the free-throw line, while the Sooners didn’t end the quarter with a single attempt.
Despite getting outshot in the first quarter from nearby the basket, the Wildcats were able to take a 25-12 lead into the second quarter, where the Wildcats continued their strong play. Both teams cooled down percentage-wise though, each shooting 40 percent in the second quarter.
The Wildcats took a 41-25 into halftime thanks in part because they played a more-clean game. In the first half, the Wildcats only committed seven turnovers compared to the 10 by the Sooners.
The Wildcats also made more of those turnovers. The Wildcats got 13 points off turnovers in the first half, while the Sooners only got four. Oklahoma out-blocked the K-State 6-0 in the half.
It was a dominating first half for the Wildcats.
The Sooners, however, refused to go quietly.
Over the first 5:33 of the third, the Sooners outscored the Wildcats 12-6, including a 6-0 run that lasted a little over a minute and cut the Wildcat lead to 10. Over the first nearly-seven minutes of the third quarter, the Sooners outshot the Wildcats percentage wise 64 percent to 40 percent.
They cut the lead to nine points on a 3-pointer with just a minute left in the third, and then down to six with less than 30 seconds left, outscoring the Wildcats 26-16 in the third quarter. The Wildcats led 57-51 at the end of it, but a scoring drought of nearly three minutes combined with a 6-0 run by the Sooners set the stage for a compelling fourth.
Junior guard Shaelyn Martin made a layup to start the fourth but an OU 3-pointer cut the lead to five.
Then, after three quarters of being held to just four points, Oklahoma redshirt senior Peyton Little made her first 3-pointer of the night to cut the Wildcat lead to two with 8:14 left. The lead got all the way down to a single point with 5:14 left.
A 7-2 run after that free throw, however, allowed the Wildcats to hold off the Sooners. Mittie said that was key against Oklahoma.
“OU has been a team that has won every close game,” Mittie said. “They have won every close game. Our group played with a lot of confidence down the stretch to win that game, and that’s what I’m most pleased with.”
The Wildcats take on the Kansas Jayhawks in Lawrence Saturday at 2 p.m. before returning home to play No. 6 Texas in their regular-season finale Monday at 7 p.m.