Despite late-game surge, women’s basketball stumbles in Big 12 opener

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Senior forward Peyton Williams scans the court for an open play during the women’s basketball game against Oral Roberts in Bramlage Coliseum on Nov. 18, 2019. The Wildcats defeated the Golden Eagles with a final score of 109-69. (Logan Wassall | Collegian Media Group)

After a non-conference slate filled with ups and downs, the women’s basketball team looked to start Big 12 Conference play on the right foot against West Virginia, but fell short 74-63 against the No. 19 ranked team.

Kansas State outscored the Mountaineers in the second half who dealt a double-double performance by senior forward Peyton Williams, but West Virginia still pulled away from K-State, recording their seventh straight win at.

Despite being outscored in the second half while also having to deal with a double-double performance from senior forward Peyton Williams, West Virginia was able to pull away from K-State and notch their seventh straight win.

“I think early, we had some aggressive turnovers that kept us from having momentum offensively,” K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said to K-State Sports. “We just hit a stretch where we weren’t getting good shots. … I thought we battled in the second half, thought we did some decent things, but every time we made a push, to West Virginia’s credit, they made some big shots. That’s what you’re going to find in this league.”

West Virginia’s big first half is what sank the Wildcats. After only trailing by one point midway through the first quarter, K-State found themselves in trouble, unable to stop freshman guard Kirsten Deans after she came off the Mountaineer’s bench. Deans gave the Mountaineers a 19-12 advantage moving into the second quarter after sinking nine straight points.

K-State continued to fall behind West Virginia in the second quarter, the Mountaineer lead growing to as much as 15 before the half. Redshirt junior guard Kysre Gondrezick was on fire on the court, finishing with 24 points — the lead scorer for West Virginia on the night.

“Gondrezick shot it well today,” Mittie said. “They got a couple broken plays in the first half where [redshirt senior guard Tynice] Martin gets a three, Gondrezick gets a three. We’ve got to clean those things up.”

Eight points from senior guard Angela Harris kept the game within reach for K-State, who trailed 35-22 at halftime.

It looked like the game might be headed for a blowout as West Virginia took their biggest lead of the game at 18 points with 4:46 to go in the third quarter, thanks to three straight triples from Gondrezick to make it 48-30.

Williams put the team on her back in the final minute of the third quarter, scoring five of the team’s seven points in a 7-0 run to make it an 11 point game. This stretch gave the Wildcats the momentum they needed heading into the final quarter, trailing 56-45.

“The second half brought more poise on offense,” Williams said to K-State Sports. We were trying to push it a lot and trying to get a fast offense going at them.”

Despite the late surge from the Wildcats, K-State never found a way to get the split the lead into the single digits. West Virginia responded after each K-State basket in the final quarter, giving the Mountaineers an opportunity to pull away and hand K-State their eighth straight defeat in a Big 12 opener.

Next up for the Wildcats is a trip to Lubbock, Texas, where they will square off against Texas Tech (11-1, 0-1) who also lost in their Big 12 opener against Iowa State 96-66 — the first Red Raider loss of the season. That game can be heard live on the K-State Sports Network at 3 p.m. on Jan. 11.

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