The women’s basketball team woke up in the third quarter to put away Kansas City in what turned into a 74-57 rout of the Roos.
“This is the best third quarter we’ve had,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “[Kansas City] comes off hitting 15 threes [in their last game]. We don’t do a very good job of cooling them off in the first half, but second half we did an excellent job.”
Sophomore center Ayoka Lee missed time in the first half due to two quick fouls, but she made up for down the stretch. She scored a career-high 31 points and added 14 rebounds in in 26 minutes of play.
“Coming into the third quarter, our guards just moved the ball so well,” Lee said. “It kind of did make it easier for me because their defense couldn’t recover very quickly. I definitely credit the guards for that.”
The Wildcats also clamped down on defense in the second half. After allowing the Roos to knock down 36 percent of their three-point shots in the first half — including a 5-10 first quarter — Kansas City was held to just 1-14 in the back half.
“I thought our defense was much better,” Mittie said. “I think we were capable of starting the game like that. I didn’t see the commitment to get to the arc like we talked about prior to this game. In the second half it was much better.”
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Ultimately, the Roos would only score 18 points in the second half as a whole while Kansas State poured on 37 by feeding Lee.
“To start the half, I basically told the team the ball better not stick at the guards, we better get the thing moved quickly and we better find a way to pound it into the paint,” Mittie said.
Lee was joined in double figures by sophomore guard Emilee Ebert, who dropped in two of three three-pointers to score 12 points and add five rebounds.
“I’m feeling pretty confident, the team is starting to mesh well together and we’re moving the ball a lot better,” Ebert said.
For K-State, part of the early struggle was trying to trade three-pointers with Kansas City, who came into the night boasting an impressive 42 percent on shots behind the arc.
“We’re probably shooting too many threes in stretches,” Mittie said. “Where our shooters sometimes have trouble is they think every shot’s going in. If it’s not your night, find a different way to contribute.”
Mittie’s squad shot only 23 percent from three and 37 percent overall on the night, but in that third quarter they lit the net on fire with a 53 percent shooting performance including 3-8 from three.
The Wildcats played six games since their Dec. 3 match-up with Kentucky, but they get some time off before heading to Ames, Iowa, to start Big 12 Conference play against Iowa State on Friday. That game tips off at 6 p.m. on ESPN+.