Women’s basketball uses strong defense to shut down North Dakota State

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Junior center Ayoka Lee comes down with a rebound in K-State's 93-53 victory over Abilene Christian on Tuesday, Nov. 23 at Bramlage Coliseum. (Archive photo by Kendall Spencer | Collegian Media Group)

The Kansas State women’s basketball team (7-1) used periods of lights-out defense to overcome some rough stretches early in its 78-57 win over North Dakota State (2-4) Monday night in Bramlage Coliseum.

After a tough start to the first quarter, K-State exploded out to a 12-0 run over the final five minutes of the quarter. K-State forced six turnovers in the quarter to help feed the Wildcat offense.

“We were getting the ball exactly where we wanted to early in this game. The shots just were falling, and that’s another thing that’s going to happen,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “If there’s nothing wrong, what teams tend to do though is they start to panic and start to try to do different stuff. We didn’t need to do anything different, we just needed to keep doing what we were doing.”

The Wildcats let the Bison back into the game early in the second quarter. North Dakota State got within one possession of the lead three separate times before a quick 10-point run by K-State to end the half and put the Bison back away.

“If a team gets hot, don’t let it be a 10-point run, turn it into a six-point run. The other teams have good players, and so they’re going to have flows of the game where they play really well,” Mittie said. “We can’t contribute to that, and I thought we contributed to that in that stretch. But I liked our response.”

K-State took a 33-21 lead into the half behind 12 second-quarter points from Ayoka Lee and 43 percent shooting as a team. Lee finished the game with yet another double-double — her sixth straight. She had 22 points and 14 rebounds, adding eight blocked shots.

The third quarter was when the Wildcats flexed their defensive muscle. NDSU struggled to get the ball to the basket, relying on free throws to score seven of its 15 points. The Bison also turned the ball over eight times, leading to 13 points off turnovers for K-State.

“I think we come together on defense. It doesn’t matter if we’re scoring well on offense,” freshman guard Brylee Glenn said. “When they were making their runs, and they came within one, we would just be like, ‘We just need one stop,’ and then one stop would turn into two and three. We put a big emphasis on that.”

Late in the game, it was Glenn’s time to shine on the offensive end. The Wildcat offense managed to find her in transition and give her opportunities to get to the basket. She rewarded them by shooting 5-of-6 for 13 points in the quarter.

“After I got fouled on the three-pointer and just seeing the ball go through the basket a couple of times for me, I think that just kind of built confidence,” Glenn said. “We weren’t getting many threes. That just wasn’t an option for us during the game, so I knew I had to be more aggressive.”

Glenn’s 15 points in the game were a career-high.

K-State turns around Friday night for its second of three non-conference games against AP Top-25 teams. This time, the Wildcats travel to Columbia, South Carolina, to take on No. 1 South Carolina at 6 p.m. as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge.

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Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, a graduate student from Olathe, Kansas, working on a Masters in Mass Communication. I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. This is my fourth year covering K-State sports for the Collegian.