Fatigue got to the Kansas State women’s basketball team, again.
Three days after giving up a late 21-0 run to lose to West Virginia, K-State suffered yet another late-game collapse. This time, it was in-state rival Kansas beating K-State 70-63 in Lawrence Saturday evening.
“As a coach, you have to kind of pick what you are going to work on,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “Some of that has to be conditioning and playing. It’s a real challenge for our players. We’re probably more limited than I’ve ever been in late-game situations.”
K-State has been limited in practice time due to the team’s COVID-19 situation. According to Mittie, only two of his players have yet to miss significant practice time.
“We’re trying to keep things simple,” Mittie said. “[But] that’s an easier scout for Kansas, that’s an easier scout for people. We’re just not making enough plays and we just gotta execute those things a little bit better and we gotta get people hopefully playing better going forward.”
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead over the Jayhawks, they drove an early lead all the way to 14 points just after midway through the second quarter.
The lead was nine 30 seconds into the second half, but from there KU poured on the pressure defense and forced K-State into mistakes and missed shots down the stretch. The Wildcats wound up committing 18 turnovers in the game to only 10 for Kansas.
“They went to the zone press to try to get us to play quicker and that’s the balance that we’re in,” Mittie said.
After a back-and-fourth third quarter, Kansas went on a 7-0 run to put K-State away. With about two minutes a pair of back-to-back fast-break layups from junior forward Laura Macke got K-State to within four.
Kansas had an answer for the Wildcat run and K-State would not get closer than five points for the rest of the game. The Wildcats tried to foul their way into the game late, but KU sealed the win at the free throw line.
Junior guard Chrissy Carr led K-State with 24 points. She was 9-18 from the floor and tacked on five rebounds.
Carr was followed by sophomore center Ayoka Lee, who scored 14 points despite only being 2-10 on field goals. She made all 20 free throws and got a double-double by throwing in 12 rebounds.
“The players who have been consistently able to practice were Lee and Carr and you can see that their minutes reflect that,” Mittie said. “Virtually everybody else was in a COVID protocol situation that limited their conditioning.”
The conditioning issue for K-State is driving the Wildcats to use more of the shot clock, often opting to delay the start of their offense until there are less than 20 seconds left. That has certainly been a limiting factor on the team’s ability to score.
“We’re not ready to play a 40-minute game,” Mittie said. “It’s not rocket science, it’s a significant challenge.”
K-State will not get a lot of time to rest before Oklahoma State visits Manhattan at 4 p.m. Monday afternoon.