‘We needed to be more poised’: Turnovers spoil Wildcats loss against No. 20 Texas

K-State Sophomore Ayoka Lee attempts to collect a rebound in the Wildcat's 62-52 loss to Texas on Monday night. (Photo Courtesy of Scott Weaver | K-State Athletics)

For a full 40-minutes on Monday, the Kansas State women’s basketball team looked flustered. With a final score that seemed close, a 62-52 loss to No. 22 Texas, turnovers determined the game.

It didn’t matter the scenario on Monday — baseline out of bounds, sideline out of bounds, full-court or half-court — K-State could not figure out the Longhorns’ defensive pressure. With 34 total turnovers and just 36 shot attempts on the night, the Wildcats were in a bind when it came to a winning outcome.

“Obviously the turnovers were our biggest issue tonight and we didn’t handle their pressure well at all,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “It didn’t matter if it was full-court or half-court. You look at the numbers and they’re just awful. You look at the possession numbers and we only get 36 shots. It’s like we are a soccer team with shots on goal, 36. I don’t think I’ve seen a number like that. When you have the turnovers that we had in those situations, it’s going to be a rough night.”

From the tip-off, K-State faced pressure — even after preparing for it in the days leading up to the match-up. The big spark for the Longhorns came in the second quarter when they forced six turnovers in under three minutes — sparking a 14-2 Texas run that put the Longhorns up 25-16.

The Wildcats didn’t score for the first two minutes of the second period and found themselves in a hole. Mittie said he wants to see his players limit these types of performances in the future.

“Our players have got to be better than that,” Mittie said. “They’ve got to cut harder, be more physical, and get better in that area. Certainly, we spent time on this, it’s not like we didn’t spend time on this. Collectively as a group it wasn’t very good.”

Junior guard Rachel Ranke said she felt like the blame is on herself and her teammates for being careless throughout the night.

“I feel like a lot of it was us being careless at times,” Ranke said. “We needed more poise. They applied pressure the whole game and we knew that was going to happen. I think a lot of it was on us for sure and just not being fundamentally for sure. The turnovers killed us tonight.”

Ranke, who finished the night with 10 points, also thought this Texas team is the hardest defending team K-State played so far this season.

“The pressure they have on the offensive end, they’re on you on the arc,” she said. “They didn’t make anything easy for us. Up to this point, they’ve given us the most pressure.”

Even with the number of turnovers, the Wildcats had a chance to overcome the big deficit in the second half. A 16-2 run over a 4:50 span in the late third and early fourth quarter cut the Texas lead to eight points at 51-43 with nearly eight minutes left in the game. Mittie went to junior Cymone Goodrich for a spark.

Goodrich’s speed helped get some easy buckets for the Wildcats and her two blow-by layups back-to-back cut the lead to just five. Mittie said he was impressed.

“I thought Cymone gave us a good lift, a little bit of speed and got to spots that others maybe weren’t able to,” Mittie said. “She was one of our most productive guards.”

Goodrich finished the game with six points. Junior guard Christianna Carr led the Wildcats with 13 points, six rebounds and an assist. Sophomore guard Emilee Ebert also showed promise with nine points, six rebounds and three assists.

Sophomore star center Ayoka Lee played limited minutes because of foul trouble. She finished the night with nine points and two rebounds in 17 minutes.

Texas center Charli Collier dominated the Wildcats, scoring 27 points and grabbing six rebounds.

K-State now has a break over the holidays. The Wildcats will be back in action after the new year on Jan. 2 on the road at Oklahoma. Tip-off is at 7 p.m. on FOX Sports Oklahoma.