Defensive mutations power K-State in first round of Big 12 tournament

K-State’s Kayla Goth, Rachel Ranke, and Ashley Ray smile after they force Central Arkansas into a timeout during the game on Dec. 20, 2018. The Wildcats defeated the Sugar Bears 70-54 in Bramlage Coliseum. (Alex Todd | Collegian Media Group)

The K-State women’s basketball team beat four-seed West Virginia 72-59 in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament in Oklahoma City.

Both teams started the game rough on offense. K-State was letting it fly from three, but started the game just 1-6 from three-point range.

Then K-State switched from their customary 2-3 zone defense to a 1-3-1 zone look that they had not used all season and West Virginia fell apart.

The Wildcats had seven first quarter steals, and limited the Mountaineers to a season-low eight first quarter points.

The Wildcats took a 21-8 lead into the break behind eight points from junior forward Peyton Williams.

Williams finished the game 22 points and six rebounds for the Wildcats. She led K-State at the free throw line, going 9-9.

Early in the second quarter, West Virginia had the 1-3-1 zone figured out. K-State switched back to its 2-3 zone and held West Virginia scoreless for nearly three minutes to stretch the lead to 32-17.

The Wildcat lead ballooned all the way out to 15 with just three minutes to play in the second half, but West Virginia used a 9-0 run to finish out the half down just 35-29.

At the half, Williams led K-State with 15 points and five rebounds, sophomore guard Rachel Ranke had 11 points.

Ranke finished the game with 21 points on 4-12 shooting from three-point range she also had six rebounds.

West Virginia cut the lead all the way to one in the third quarter, 40-39 with six minutes to play. The Wildcats managed to shut them down on offense after that.

The K-State defense held West Virginia to just four points in the last six minutes of the quarter. K-State took a 50-43 lead into the final period.

West Virginia again cut the K-State lead to one possession with 7:46 to play in the fourth quarter, but Williams made a difficult shot from under the basket and sank the free throw to push the Wildcat lead back to five.

K-State had one more defensive change in store for West Virginia down the stretch. K-State briefly switched into a man-on-man defense and then back to the 2-3 zone to finish out the game.

K-State used the defensive mutations to push their lead to 13 with just a minute to play and cleared out the bench to hold out for the win.

They finished the game with a tournament second round record 18 steals according to Fox Sports. West Virginia turned the ball over 25 times in the game.

Senior guard Kayla Goth tied a school record for single game assists with 13 in the game. She also had five points and four steals.

K-State will play the winner of Baylor and Texas Tech on Sunday back in Oklahoma City in the second round of the Big 12 Tournament.