After a 60-day stretch without a win, the Kansas State women’s basketball team (8-15) finally got its first Big 12 Conference win over Kansas on Feb. 13 — and even won two of the team’s last three games.
In the last outing, K-State beat TCU 79-76 in overtime. The team will now face a tough test, hosting No. 18 West Virginia on Wednesday. The Mountaineers beat K-State by nine points the last time the teams met. West Virginia comes in sitting at second in the Big 12 with an 18-4 overall record.
Here’s a breakdown of how the Wildcats can pull off the upset this week.
Make the Mountaineers go to the bench
West Virginia comes into the game with one of the top scorers in the Big 12 — Kyser Gondrezick — and three starters average double-digit scoring per game. However, the flip side of that is that the bench isn’t on the court much.
Three of the four West Virginia bench players who regularly see the floor average less than 14 minutes per game. If K-State can force a few WVU starters into foul trouble, limit Gondezrick’s scoring and make a few bench players step up, it could be big for the Wildcat’s chances at a victory.
Feed Ayoka Lee
Remember how the Mountaineers have one of the best scorers in the Big 12? So does K-State.
Sophomore center Ayoka Lee averages 18.4 points per game and had 29 points earlier this week in the Wildcats’ win over TCU.
Lee checks in at 6-foot-6, which can be an advantage. The Mountaineers’ tallest starter is four inches shorter than Lee, but the sophomore only scored 16 points in K-State’s last meeting with WVU. Logically, that number needs to rise this time around for the possible upset.
Giving the ball to Lee often will either give her a mismatch or force WVU to put in some bench players who match up better with Lee.
Rebound the ball
Lee is also important for K-State’s success in this game on the boards.
In three of the four West Virginia losses this season, the team was out-rebounded. K-State will want to hit the glass hard to stay in this game.
Last time these two teams played, K-State won the rebounding battle 31-20 — so it’s an area the team already knows how to exploit.
The rebounding battle between Lee, who averages eight per game, and WVU’s Esmery Martinzes, who averages 12 per game, is something to keep an eye on during the game.
Close out the game
Last time these two teams played, K-State led by eight points going into the fourth quarter but lost the game by nine points thanks to a 26-9 Mountaineer run.
If K-State can accomplish the first three steps, it could be in a position to win the game. The key then? Finish the job.
K-State just got an overtime win, so maybe the bad luck of blown leads earlier this season is over with. With a history of blowing leads though, it’ll be interesting to watch how K-State finishes the game on Wednesday.
Wednesday’s game is scheduled to tip-off at at 7:30 p.m. and can be streamed on ESPN+. Radio coverage will be through the K-State Sports Network.