K-State women use defense to handle St. Louis, secure second round WNIT appearance

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Kansas State’s women’s basketball team hosted the first round of the WNIT in Bramlage Coliseum Thursday night. They defeated the St. Louis University Billikens 75-61.

To say offense was hard to come by in the first quarter would be an understatement. K-State started the game just 1-5, while the Billikens missed their first six shots of the game.

“It was a slow start for both of us,” sophomore forward Peyton Williams said. “We were kind of joking that there were lids on the basket.”

The K-State 2-3 zone did its job, forcing the Billikens to shoot difficult midrange jump shots and three pointers. St. Louis was 0-3 from three in the first quarter.

St. Louis, however, got a few confidence-building buckets in transition and pulled to a 10-10 tie towards the end of the first quarter.

Junior guard Kayla Goth knocked down a buzzer-beating jump shot to take a 12-10 lead into the first break.

Both offenses woke up in the second quarter, led by Goth and Williams and St. Louis’ senior forward Maddison Gits.

Williams led the Wildcats with 21 points. She also provided eight rebounds.

“Peyton had good stretches; she got a little frustrated early,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “We had some really fun in the third and fourth quarter where we were really moving the ball well, and obviously Peyton was a part of that.”

The Billikens found some offensive success driving the lane to draw out the middle defender and then slipping a wing behind her for an easy lay-up. They also woke up from outside, making four of eight three-pointers in the quarter.

Goth managed to get to the basket more effectively, as she tends to, and Williams found some open mid-range jump shots from the baseline.

Goth finished the night with 19 points and six assists.

The Wildcats pulled away in the second quarter, but St. Louis fought their way right back into it. K-State took a slim 38-32 lead into the halftime locker room.

K-State captured the momentum when freshman guard Rachel Ranke stole a pass in transition, dove on the ball and then found a wide-open Williams under the basket to put K-State up by 10 mid-way through the third quarter.

The Wildcats followed that up with a defensive stop and a wide open three from Ranke at the top of the key.

They never looked back.

Ranke had 17 points and a career-high 10 rebounds in the win. She was ­3-5 from three-point range. This is the first double-double of her young career.

“[The double-double] feels great, coming out it’s always fun to have the home court advantage,” Ranke said. “Coming out with a lot of confidence was very big for our first round.

As with the other quarters, the Billikens closed the gap a little at the end, but the Wildcats kept a 57-49 lead heading into the final frame.

The Wildcat defense stiffened in the fourth quarter, allowing the offense to pull away. The first Billiken basket of the quarter came with just under six minutes left in the form of a pair of free throws. They would not score a field goal until past halfway through the quarter.

The Wildcats will host the Utah Utes in the second round of the WNIT on Sunday in Bramlage Coliseum.

“We are excited not to be going to Utah,” Williams said about getting to host the second round.

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