The Kansas State women’s basketball team seized the opportunity to take down a top-10 team when No. 10 Baylor came to Bramlage Coliseum after a lengthy holiday break on Sunday, Jan. 2. The Wildcats led for 38 minutes to take down the Bears 68-59.
After a quick bucket from Baylor out the gate, freshman Jaelyn Glenn hit a three to take the lead. The Bears would not score again until more than seven minutes had elapsed in the quarter. Meanwhile, K-State built an eight-point lead that ballooned to 14 shortly after.
“I’d like to think we had something to do with them not shooting the ball well,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “What I was pleased with was that the pace of the game was where we wanted it. They weren’t in transition, which we wanted to get them out of transition.”
That early lead was important to keep Baylor from coming back late.
“You always want to coach out front, but you know that’s not going to happen. You know you’re going to coach 40 minutes whether you get off to a rough start, it’s a 40-minute game,” Mittie said. “The danger of starting off like that is sometimes young teams think, ‘Oh, we’re playing great, we don’t have to play the next 26 minutes.’ I felt like our team knew it was a 40-minute game.”
K-State had to sit junior center Ayoka Lee for much of the second quarter after picking up her second foul. She played only two minutes in the period.
With Lee out, K-State struggled to build on its lead, and Baylor was able to look inside and make the game a bit more competitive. K-State still led by eight at the break, but the momentum was very much with the visitors.
“[Lee] doesn’t have to do it all for us. Every player but [Emilee] Ebert had scored at halftime,” Mittie said. “We knew that if we got [Lee] touches in the second half, and we got her timely touches, we knew that good things would happen.”
After the break, Lee got her touches. She pounded 19 points in the third quarter — a school record for points in any quarter — and grabbed four rebounds.
“I think it was just, stick to the game plan [at halftime],” Lee said. “I wasn’t like, ‘Oh, I need to score,’ like we’re playing well.”
Baylor got the lead below 10 with its first shot of the fourth quarter, but then Emilee Ebert took over to help guide the lead back to double-digits. She hit a three from the top of the key and then turned around and made a great pass through the lane to set Lee up a bucket.
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K-State sealed the win with a couple of clutch defensive stops and nearly perfect free throw shooting down the stretch as Baylor tried to foul its way back into the game.
“Gotta make your free throws,” Lee said. “I had confidence that our team could do it. We knew we were in the bonus, we knew they had to start fouling.”
Lee finished the game with 32 points and 10 rebounds on just 27 minutes of playing time. She also blocked a pair of shots and stole the ball three times, including a crucial strip of Baylor’s Nalyssa Smith, this past year’s NCAA player of the year.
This was K-State’s first win over Baylor since 2004 and its first win over a top-10 team since 2012.
“It’s a big win,” Mittie said. “Baylor has had such a hold on the league that you can do that stat with a lot of [teams]. … They’ve dominated this league, right? So this is a huge win.”
The Bears were down to just seven players but had their starting five and first player off the bench still available.
“We played with seven up at South Dakota State,” Mittie said. “Baylor was in that situation today, and they certainly had their top-six that they’ve been playing. I don’t think that changed that much because they’ve been playing six most of the year. … We didn’t change anything schematically against that.”
K-State will take on Oklahoma State at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 5 in Stillwater, Oklahoma, with the game airing on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.