The women’s basketball team (5-8, 0-6) avoided the late-game collapse which plagued the team since resuming team activities on Thursday night. That did not help the Wildcats avoid a loss in the 62-60 defeat at the hands of Iowa State (11-5, 7-2) in Manhattan.
Execution, not fatigue, hurt the Wildcats tonight. Both teams finished the game struggling to put the ball through the net.
“That’s probably the first game in a couple games that we’ve been able to play all 40 minutes, and I thought we played hard all 40 minutes,” senior guard Sydney Goodson said. “We’re getting back into shape, getting back into the swing of things and I think every game we’re getting better.”
After jumping out to an early lead, Kansas State relinquished its advantage by halftime. Iowa State stretched its lead out to 11. K-State got the lead down to five and earned crucial momentum back.
“A big thing at halftime was if offense isn’t going well, we can’t let that reflect on our defense,” sophomore center Ayoka Lee said.
Lee struggled with foul trouble in previous games and picked up two fouls in the first quarter. She managed to stay mostly clean — and on the court — in the second half and finished the game with 19 points and 12 rebounds in 28 minutes.
“[Having Lee on the court] is important,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “We’re going on three, four, five games in a row there’s fouls early and teams are really attacking her. … It drives her crazy right now.”
In the second half, the Wildcats took a run to tie the game before surrendering a large lead to the Cyclones halfway through the third quarter.
The Wildcats cut the Iowa State lead to one heading into the final stanza where the defense took over.
“Even if we weren’t making things on offense during that drought, we got back on defense and got the stop,” Lee said. “It wasn’t great that our offense wasn’t going, but it was great that they weren’t getting ahead during that time.”
For five minutes, neither team scored and the score sat tied with one minute and six seconds to play. ISU made a pair of free throws to take the lead, but Lee answered on the next possession with a layup.
“You can’t shoot 3-of-14. We’re fortunate to even be in it, especially against an offensive team like Iowa State,” Mittie said.
The Wildcats went back to stalling out the shot clock to save energy in the fourth quarter, which made the team competitive down the stretch.
With a hair under 10 seconds to play and K-State fouling to extend the game, the Cyclones gave K-State a chance to get back into the game. Senior guard Madison Wise missed the first of two free throws to make it a one-possession game.
K-State took its last time out to move the ball to half court and give the team a better shot at getting a game-tying basket. The Wildcats did not get their three-point attempt. Instead, a lay-up from junior guard Rachel Ranke cut the lead to one.
“We were trying to get [Laura] Macke to go out to the corner real quick, throw it in and get her out to the corner,” Mittie said. “I probably should have taken my damn mask off, quite honestly, because they’re not easy to read lips [through]. It was a good play for Rachel to end up taking it because Laura didn’t sprint out of there like I wanted her to.”
Another missed Cyclone free throw gave K-State a fighting chance with three seconds to play and two points to go, but the runner at the three-point line just missed as the buzzer sounded.
“We ended up having a three to win it at the end. It’s a little bit of a runner but we’ve got a chance to make that three to walk off a winner tonight,” Mittie said.
With the loss, K-State falls to 0-6 in Big 12 play and 5-8 overall on the year. K-State lost four-straight games since missing nearly a month of practice and games because of COVID-19.
The Wildcats take on the Oklahoma Sooners at 1 p.m. Sunday in Bramlage Coliseum.