Women’s basketball falls to West Virginia in close game

K-State and West Virginia competed during the Phillips 66 Big 12 Women's Basketball Championship at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Missouri, on March 12, 2021. (Photo courtesy of Scott Weaver)

The Kansas State women’s basketball season came to a close with a 58-56 loss to No. 17 West Virginia in the Big 12 Tournament.

The Wildcats got off to a slow start, trailing by 10 at one point in the first quarter before the team climbed back to a 17-14 deficit at the end of the period. Sophomore guard Emilee Ebert led the way for the Wildcats in the first quarter with five points.

“I just told [Ebert] to keep attacking and keep staying aggressive, and she did a great job of that,” junior guard Rachel Ranke said. “She was getting inside, getting into the paint, and those are the shots that we want for her.”

The Wildcats dominated the second quarter 13-5 and led 27-22 at the half.

Defense was the theme of the quarter as the Mountaineers remained at one field goal and went nine minutes between made field goals while the Wildcats went on a 13-0 run. Ebert led the Wildcats scoring in the first half with seven points. Sophomore forward Ayoka Lee and Ranke both chipped in six points in the first half.

“I thought [Ebert] made a lot of really good plays tonight and made a lot of right plays tonight,” coach Jeff Mittie said. “She had really good focus and I think she was playing through some pain out there.”

In the third quarter, the Mountaineers climbed to a 41-40 lead. Turnovers plagued the Wildcats in the third quarter as they had seven.

“This will be tough one to settle, but I think we’ll wake up tomorrow and we will recognize that there were things this year that were productive, and I think it’ll help us be a better team next year,” Mittie said.

After a Ranke three-pointer with 1:41 to go in the game, the Wildcats led 55-48. However, West Virginia’s press stumped the Wildcats and the game was tied with five seconds to go in the game with the Wildcats in possession under West Virginia’s basket.

Ebert’s inbound lob to Lee was tipped and stolen by West Virginia guard Kristen Deans. Deans took it all the way to make a layup at the buzzer.

“[It] sucks because it came down to the very last possession of the game, so that hurts knowing that we were right there and then didn’t go how we want it to,” Ranke said. “[This game] will stick with us for sure for next year.”

The Wildcats finished their season 9-18 overall and 3-15 in Big 12 play.