Kansas State’s women’s basketball team (18-10, 8-8 Big 12) lost on a buzzer-beater by McPherson-native Taylor Robertson to No. 20 Oklahoma (22-6, 11-5 Big 12) in Norman. Robertson’s corner three made the final score 72-69.
“I thought this was an NCCA tournament-type game with the energy and the crowd,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “We handled multiple runs by them and we ran right back at them.”
The Wildcats were down 34-25 late in the second quarter when freshman point guard Serena Sundell stepped up and hit a big three with seven seconds to play to cut the lead to six at halftime.
“We had a lot of players make big shots,” Mittie said.
Sundell led all scorers with 24 points. She also dished out seven assists, grabbed three rebounds and had a pair of steals while running the point for 40 minutes.
“She just continues to grow as a player,” Mittie said. “I thought she pushed the basketball at the right time, I thought she pulled it back at the right time. You’re watching a really talented player continue to grow, and that’s always fun to see.”
Another Sundell three-pointer with just under four minutes left in the third quarter gave K-State a lead for the first time since the opening minutes. She would hit a layup at the end of the quarter to tie it heading into the fourth.
K-State built a five-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but OU came right back and gave themselves a lead with 3:50 to play. From there, the teams traded shots right up until the buzzer.
Sundell hit a three to cut the lead to one, but Lampkin answered the next time down with a layup to push it back to three.
On the ensuing possession, freshman guard Jaelyn Glenn fed Sundell for another three to tie it. Robertson hit a three just a few seconds later to regain the lead for the Sooners.
“Give OU credit for making one more play than we made,” Mittie said. “We made winning plays in this game. Now we didn’t win the game, but we made winning plays.”
After a Robertson steal and a missed jump shot from OU, it was senior forward Laura Macke’s turn to make a ‘winning play.’
The Baileyville, Kansas, native was left open late in the shot clock, and she nailed a three to tie it with 22 seconds to play.
“She got an open look and had the confidence to knock it down at the end of the shot clock, and it was obviously a huge play with only 20 seconds left in the game,” Mittie said.
Macke was given a lot of leeway by Oklahoma, who opted to use her defender to pack bodies in the paint and limit Ayoka Lee. She made them pay with a career-high 17 points on 7-14 shooting.
“They were really crowding Lee in there. They’re really committed to keeping a big crowd around her all day long,” Mittie said. “It was really good to see our group shoot the ball with more confidence.”
K-State defended the Oklahoma final play well, but the Big 12’s best three-point shooter would not be denied. She came off a screen and hit a fade-away three from the corner at the buzzer.
“We defended their ISO play at the other end, they just did a good job of finding Robertson as kind of the bailout of that play,” Mittie said.
K-State had struggled to shoot threes since its loss in Lawrence, but the Wildcats were 9-22 from three-point range, seemingly getting their legs back under them.
“You’ve got to shoot it with confidence,” Mittie said. “We’ve seen improvement, but I also think it’s just a confidence thing to pull the trigger. That’s what I’m most proud of. We had some players on the road, good crowd, loud crowd, that have the confidence to step up and knock down some big shots.”
K-State failed to lock up an outright hold on sixth-place and the final Big 12 Tournament bye, but the Wildcats will have a chance to deal a decisive blow to seventh-place West Virginia when the Mountaineers visit Manhattan at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, airing on ESPN+.