Foul trouble doomed Kansas State (7-2) against No. 1 South Carolina in the Wildcats’ 65-44 blowout loss in Columbia, South Carolina, in the Big 12/SEC challenge. The Big 12 still has not won a match-up in the 10-game series.
K-State hung with the Gamecocks early, smothering the South Carolina offense and making just enough shots to stay in it.
The problem was that K-State was racking up fouls trying to compete with South Carolina’s speed, size and athleticism. Freshman point guard Serena Sundell picked up two early and grabbed her third in the second quarter.
Disaster really struck with six-and-a-half minutes left in the second quarter when junior center Ayoka Lee picked up her third foul. The score was 19-15, South Carolina. The Wildcats would manage one more basket in the half and go six minutes without scoring.
They failed to hit the rim on three straight possessions in that stretch.
Meanwhile, South Carolina built a 13-point halftime lead behind 11 first-half points from Lee’s foil, Aliyah Boston.
Disaster turned into catastrophe when Lee picked up her fourth just under two minutes into the second half and her back-up Taylor Lauterbach picked up her third two possessions later.
With their leading scorer and best rim protector on the bench, K-State could not stop Boston and could not keep up either. The Gamecocks stretched their lead out to 23 points.
K-State also switched to a 2-3 zone after bringing in a small lineup with both centers sidelined. The Wildcats brought Lee back in to play with four fouls late in the third quarter.
The Wildcats were outrebounded 52-34 and shot just 26 percent from the field in the loss, owing at least partially to the team’s best players having to sit out significant minutes. South Carolina blocked a school-record 16 shots.
K-State was out of the game by the end of the third quarter, trailing 52-27.
Despite only playing 22 minutes, Lee led the team with 14 points and six rebounds.
Freshman guard Brylee Glenn followed up a career-high 15 points earlier this week with 10 points of her own. She also had three steals.
South Carolina had two players — Boston and Kamilla Cardoso — record point and rebound double-doubles.
K-State will head to Omaha to take on Nebraska-Omaha at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 8. The Wildcats won’t return home until they face Oregon — yet another ranked non-conference opponent — on Dec. 18.