The Kansas State women’s basketball team was eliminated from the Big 12 Tournament in its opening-round game against Texas. The Wildcats fell 72-65 in Kansas City’s Municipal Auditorium Friday night.
K-State looked like it was going to get run out of the gym early when Texas’s lead reached separate highs of 11 and 13 in the second quarter.
The Wildcats scored eight straight at the end of the second quarter to cut the Texas lead to seven at the break and then managed to cut it all the way to four towards the end of the third quarter after a Jaelyn Glenn layup.
K-State collapsed after that to seal its fate. The Wildcats gave up back-to-back three-point shots. Then, Texas hit a pair of free throws, making the lead ten points. A five-second violation let Texas get one more basket in before the end of the quarter.
“That end of the third period part was critical,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “We gave up back-to-back threes and had the turnover, couldn’t get the ball out of bounds. That happened quick. That happened in about a minute and 20 seconds, and that was the turning point.”
The 10-0 run in under two minutes stretched the Texas lead to 14 at the end of the quarter. Meanwhile, K-State kept racking up fouls.
Starters Serena Sundell, Brylee Glenn and Jaelyn Glenn all sat with foul trouble for an extended time. Brylee Glenn fouled out with three minutes still on the clock.
“I think Texas did a good job driving it at us,” Mittie said. “They were a step quicker in some areas, and if you’re late on a play, you’re going to pick up some fouls.”
After letting the Longhorn lead get out to 16 early in the fourth quarter, K-State found a little life in a 9-0 run of its own while holding Texas without a field goal for 6:01.
“I thought it was a heck of a game,” Mittie said. “I thought we made a really good push back at them after they pushed away from us at the end of the third.”
However, Texas scored five straight from the free-throw line during that drought. The Longhorns were 25-28 from the line on the night.
The Wildcats once again got within eight points of the lead, but with only 1:50 to play, it was too little too late.
Texas managed to pull down 11 offensive rebounds and convert those into 11 second-chance points. The Longhorns got up 10 more shots than K-State.
The Wildcats shot 51 percent from the field, but they also only shot 3-10 from three and turned the ball over 16 times — 26 percent of their possessions.
“I thought our group attacked well. I thought we did some things better than we had the previous games against Texas,” Mittie said. “We shot well enough to win, and we did some things good enough to win, but we didn’t have enough shots and not enough possessions.”
Part of the offensive success was a new wrinkle the Wildcats added to their offense to get a little more balance. They moved junior center Ayoka Lee up to the elbow to work more in the screen game and then run some hand-offs and backdoor cuts.
“It’s hard to argue with the looks because we shot 51 percent,” Mittie said. “What we wanted to do tonight was move everybody higher and try to at least be able to open up some backdoor cuts.”
Three Wildcats found their way into double-figures: Lee had 16 points, Emilee Ebert had 15 and Sundell had 11.
K-State will wait to hear its name called on Selection Sunday. An eight or nine-seed seems in the cards for the Wildcats after being in the running to host as a four-seed earlier this season. The selection show starts at 7 p.m. on Sunday on ESPN.