Women’s basketball team takes another step forward

Head coach Jeff Mittie discusses his game plan during a timeout in the game against Tulsa in Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 11, 2016. (File Photo by Sabrina Cline | The Collegian)

It was just a non-conference game in mid-December in Bramlage Coliseum. The Kansas State women’s basketball team, like most college basketball teams around the country, have many of them. They are usually poorly attended and churn out very few headlines.

This particular game was different. It was in front of a sold-out crowd — the first in four years — against the top-ranked team in the nation and possibly the greatest women’s basketball program in the history of the sport.

K-State did not leave Bramlage with a win against Connecticut that day. They lost by 17 and UConn extended its winning streak to 84 games. It was one of a few moments this season that showed the promise and upward trend of this K-State team and program as a whole.

Technically, the Wildcats did not end the season any better than a season ago. Last year they bowed out in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, which was the same round the lost in this year against a very tough Stanford team.

But behind head coach Jeff Mittie, the Wildcats have steadily improved year-after-year.

K-State won 23 games, the most wins in a season since the 2008-09 campaign. They were ranked in the top 25 for most of the season. They finished fourth in the Big 12, their best conference finish in five years, and they hosted the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.

The program is headed in the right direction largely in part to two seniors: Breanna Lewis and Kindred Wesemann.

Lewis and Wesemann led the way for the Cats all season long; the duo led the team with 13.9 points per game each. Wesemann also led the team in steals and Lewis led in blocks and rebounds. The two also provided much-needed leadership for the young talent on the team.

“We’ve won more games each year as we progressed from our freshman to our senior year,” Wesemann said to media after the season-ending loss to Stanford. “I think we put this program back where it needs to be. We need to get past the second round next year. Our coaches do a wonderful job of getting out and recruiting great players, and not only great players but great people, that fit the mold for Kansas State and that really represent our family atmosphere that we have here.”

While they will not have Lewis and Wesemann to lean on next season, the Wildcats have a talented nucleus to build around, including Kayla Goth, Karyla Middlebrook, Eternati Willock, Kaylee Page and Peyton Williams.

With Mittie and company at the helm, the program’s future looks bright.

I am a senior in Journalism. I like sports and things.