Texas Tech gave the Kansas State women’s basketball team all they could handle, but their comeback effort came up short thanks to some clutch rebounds and free throws from the Wildcats. K-State won 86-79 in Bramlage Coliseum on Wednesday night.
“We gave up a big lead tonight, but we didn’t give into that and we made some plays down the stretch and that should give us confidence going forward,” head coach Jeff Mittie said.
The Wildcats dominated their way through the first half of the game, leading by 14 at half and stretching their lead all the way to 17 in the third quarter.
“I think, whenever shots are going in and we’re going on these runs. Yes it’s great, we gotta keep that energy going but we can’t get complacent,” junior guard Christianna Carr said.
The Red Raiders clamped down on defense and the Wildcats found baskets harder and harder to come by midway through the third quarter, while Texas Tech kept draining threes and working their way back into the game.
K-State’s only reprieve on offense? Getting to the foul line.
As a team, the Wildcats were 10-11 from the line in the third quarter and 19-21 in the second half, including six in a row from Carr to ice the win.
“When you make free throws, that changes some things,” Mittie said. “It’s big the entire game, I think our players are stepping to the line with more confidence than they did a week or a month ago and hopefully we can continue to do that.”
Carr was 10-11 from the line en route to a 24-point, 11-rebound double-double. She dished out three assists and made a pair of three-pointers in her 32 minutes of play.
“The way she finished and the confidence that she finished down the stretch I thought was huge for us,” Mittie said. “Obviously to knock down big free throws late in the game. Those are big free throws, that’s going to give her confidence going forward in big games.”
The Wildcats fell apart earlier in the month after taking a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter. Tech wound up scoring 19 straight and beating K-State in overtime. Late game collapses have plagued K-State ever since coming back from a month-long COVID-19 disruption.
“It’s hard not to go back to it. I think that’s the mental challenge,” Mittie said. “I was proud of our group for forcing that out of their head.”
The Wildcats avoided that fate by doing just enough on both ends of the floor to hold on to the lead. Mittie chalked the difference tonight up to his team building confidence.
“Any time you’re able to come out on the winning side, it gives you confidence,” Mittie said. “The more situations you handle. The more you are successful doing that, the more confidence you get. That sounds simple, but confidence is not easy to get.”
Carr’s 24 points lead the team. She was followed by sophomore guard Emilee Ebert who scored 19 points and made five rebounds in 31 minutes before fouling out. Ebert did not miss a shot in the first half and was 6-11 for the game.
“[Ebert] had a good pace to her game. She had the right amount of aggressiveness on the drives that she had,” Mittie said. “She’s playing through contact better, which is something we’ve wanted her to keep improving on, so she’s doing that much, much better.”
Mittie suggested earlier in the year that he would like to see her be more aggressive on offense and shoot more.
Junior guard Rachel Ranke scored 14 and sophomore center Ayoka Lee fought through foul trouble to contribute 12.
The 86 points were the most K-State had scored all season and the win moved them to 2-12 in Big 12 Conference play. It was also the program’s 350th win in 32 seasons at Bramlage.
K-State will set their sights on Waco, Texas, and a date with No. 7 Baylor on Saturday at 11 a.m. on ESPN+.