The Kansas State women’s basketball team’s rally fell short in a 72-64 senior night loss to No. 20 West Virginia on Wednesday. K-State fought back from a 13-point deficit to take a lead early in the fourth quarter, but the Mountaineers’ shooting ended up sinking the Wildcats.
West Virginia shot 50 percent overall and 53 percent from three while delivering daggers from mid-range and deep to hold onto the lead.
“We came into the game wanting to guard the three-pointer better and we just didn’t,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “It’s demoralizing at times when a team does that to you because you make a big push back at them and then they bang a three down.”
West Virginia stretched a 6-0 run at the end of the first half into an 11-0 run to take a 13-point lead very early in the third quarter.
“I thought we had chances. In the first half, I thought a lot of missed layups on our part,” Mittie said. “We could never make easy plays tonight.”
From there, K-State started feeding sophomore center Ayoka Lee in the paint. Lee wound up scoring 26 points on the night, 14 of which came in the second half.
“It got better as the game went on,” Lee said. “It took us a little bit to find our rhythm.”
The Wildcats also found a way to get junior guard Christianna Carr involved in the offense. The guard was held to only one made field goal in the first half, but isolation plays helped her build-up to 15 points after a quick rest.
“I was just trying to take the right shot, I think that there were some plays that if I could take it back I probably wouldn’t have shot it,” Carr said.
K-State took a brief lead, but the next time down the court West Virginia took it right back with a quick two-point basket.
The Mountaineers had a knack for doing that. K-State would get the lead down to single digits three more times in the last nine minutes of play and West Virginia would have an answer.
“Down the stretch, they were taking some tough shots and they were making some tough shots,” Carr said.
The final back-breaker? A three-pointer at the shot clock buzzer to put K-State behind by eight with under 30 seconds. The Wildcats finished the game 0-for-their-last-6.
“What I felt like West Virginia did that hurt us was they really went to the iso game with [Esmery] Martinez and [Kari] Niblack late,” Mittie said. “What we wanted to do was play Niblack one-on-one and that’s when they got a couple of the back cuts, that’s when they got a couple of plays that we really shouldn’t have given them.”
The Wildcats celebrated their two seniors, forward Ashley Ray and guard Sydney Goodson after the game.
Up next for K-State is their regular-season finale on the road against Oklahoma on Sunday at 3 p.m. That game will be televised on Fox Sports Oklahoma.