PREVIEW: Women’s basketball faces critical battle in Lawrence

Freshman guard Jaelyn Glenn drives to the hoop during WBB's first matchup against Kansas in the 2021-22 season in Bramlage Coliseum. (Archive photo by Sophie Osborn | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State women’s basketball looks to get back in the win column after suffering its biggest loss of the year against Baylor when the Wildcats visit Kansas on Saturday, Feb. 12. The trip to Lawrence will mark the second leg of the Sunflower Showdown.

In January, K-State downed Kansas 69-61 in front of over 4,000 fans in Manhattan. Ayoka Lee, Serena Sundell and Jaelyn Glenn each scored in double-figures, leading the Wildcats over their in-state rival.

The two teams are vying for one of the last six available byes in the Big 12 Tournament in Kansas City, Missouri. With a 7-4 record in Big 12 play, Kansas sits at fourth place in the league — a half-game up on fifth-place K-State.

The Wildcats were recently blown out by Baylor in a perfect storm of disasters. Lee picked up two quick first-quarter fouls that sent her to the bench, while Sundell — who has become a key to this offense — sat next to her with ice on her ankle after sustaining an injury just a few minutes into the game.

Sundell wound up in a boot by the end of the game and will be a game-time decision for the match-up in Lawrence.

That injury puts a serious damper on the Wildcats’ already struggling road offense. K-State has played 10 road games and failed to reach 60 points five times. Overall, the Wildcats are 1-5 when they score 59 or fewer points. That one win came in a 44-30 defensive battle at home.

Sundell provides 9.7 points and 5.7 assists per game and is the primary ball-handler for K-State, playing an average of 30 of the 40 available minutes in each game. In her place, K-State will turn to senior Cymone Goodrich and sophomore Jada Moore for primary ball-handling duties.

Goodrich has shown an ability to get to the basket this year, even if she is a less proficient distributor than Sundell. The senior from Chicago got the start against KU this past year and stuffed the stat sheet with eight points, six rebounds, six assists and three steals.

If Sundell can’t play, K-State will need a huge game from Lee and above-average scoring outputs from Brylee and Jaelyn Glenn.

Offensive balance will likely be the name of the game for K-State in the same way it was in K-State’s home win against Texas Tech. The Glenn twins each scored in double-figures in that match up.

Lee’s double-double against KU earlier shows that while Kansas has the bodies to match-up with her inside, K-State can still be successful relying on their center.

On defense, K-State will focus on keeping Holly Kersgieter from getting hot outside the three-point arc. The Wildcats held her to just three makes from deep in Manhattan, but the junior from Oklahoma is making such shots at a 39 percent clip this year.

Senior guard Aniya Thomas was also a problem for K-State in Manhattan. She scored a team-leading 16 points.

The game tips off at 6 p.m. from Lawrence’s Allen Fieldhouse, streaming on ESPN+.

Hi! I'm Nathan Enserro, an alumnus from Olathe, Kansas. I graduated in spring 2022 with a Masters in Mass Communication, and I graduated in spring 2020 with a Bachelor's of Science in strategic communications from K-State. I covered K-State sports for the Collegian for four years.