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.

Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, an alumnus from Olathe, Kansas. I graduated in spring 2022 with a Masters in Mass Communication, and I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. I covered K-State sports for the Collegian for four years.