ANALYSIS: K-State keeps NCAA tournament hopes alive with victory over West Virginia

Sophomore guard Rachel Ranke leaps up for a shot during K-State's women's basketball game in Bramlage Coliseum on Feb. 27, 2019. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

The Wildcats defeated West Virginia 90-79 on Wednesday night in a must-win game to keep their postseason hopes alive. The Wildcats have won five of the last six, including four straight road wins with the lone loss coming at the hands of No. 1 Baylor.

Baylor may have already clinched the Big 12 title, but the Wildcats still have a chance to reach the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament for the first time since 2017.

The Wildcats entered the mid-week clash with West Virginia as one of the first four teams out in the Charlie Creme’s latest Bracketology. The Mountaineers entered the matchup in the same boat despite sitting in fourth in the conference.

It is an ideal situation to have the opportunity to play with a chance to dampen a conference opponent’s postseason hopes.

“Anybody that watched this game, I believe this is a tournament type game,” Jeff Mittie, head coach, said.

The Wildcats got solid production from senior guard Kayla Goth and sophomore guard Christianna Carr. The duo combined for 51 points on the night. Goth finished with a career-high 30 points and Carr finished with 21, her third 20+ point game in her young career.

The Wildcats are looking to make a late season push for the tournament and it was crucial to get a win against a similar opponent, but for Mittie, it is not the only focus.

“We break it down into three game stretches so quite frankly I don’t want to hear another thing about bracketology from my staff or anybody because we are in a three-game stretch,” Mittie said.

K-State only has two more games remaining in the season to impress the tournament committee.

“Don’t leave It up to the committee’s hands. You force the committee’s hands,” Mittie said.

The Wildcats have an opportunity to win out with matchups against ninth-place Texas Tech and seventh-place Oklahoma State. K-State will be looking for the season sweep against both teams.

K-State does have a legitimate chance to make the tournament with quality wins with a season sweep with Texas and a season split of West Virginia, but the loss to Kansas at home remains a blemish on K-State’s tournament resume.

There is no guarantee that the Wildcats will reach the tournament with the win over West Virginia, but it certainly helps K-State’s chances.

The Wildcats still have the Big 12 tournament later this month and would like to stay away from the bottom four spots in the conference.

The Wildcats will play their final home game of the season on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Texas Tech.