Wildcats unable to mount comeback against West Virginia

Junior Taylor Lauterbach fights for position while on defense against UMKC. The wildcats defeated UMKC 72-45 on Dec. 7th. (Archive photo by Jersey Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

Kansas State women’s basketball falls to 12-4 (1-2) on the season with a 77-70 loss to the West Virginia Mountaineers. The Wildcats trimmed a large deficit but ultimately fell short of a come-from-behind win. 

The first quarter was fairly even, with West Virginia’s defensive pressure giving them the slight edge of 19-15. Ankle injuries to sophomore guards Serena Sundell and Brylee Glenn highlighted the opening minutes. 

In the second quarter, the Mountaineers led by as many as nine and looked to be pulling away with the game. However, Sundell returned from the bench and gave the Wildcats some life. 

Just as momentum started to shift, Glenn — who also played through an ankle injury in the second quarter — reaggravated her injury and missed the rest of the game. The Mountaineers took advantage and wouldn’t let the Wildcats climb back before half. West Virginia led 42-32 at the break. 

Coming out of halftime, K-State emphasized holding their own in the paint by inserting the 6-foot-7 junior Taylor Lauterbach for Glenn. West Virginia dominated by the basket, scoring well over half of their points and out-rebounded the Wildcats 21-12.

Improvement in the paint and senior guard Gabby Gregory’s third quarter dominance allowed K-State to close the Mountaineer lead. West Virginia had led by 15, but now K-State only trailed 58-55 going into the final quarter.

The final ten minutes saw back-and-forth play, and K-State trailed by two with 1:42 left. However, the Wildcats gave up some crucial points and committed turnovers that allowed West Virginia to pull away late.

Sundell entered the game as one of five players in the nation and the only player in the Big 12 currently averaging at least 11 points, five rebounds and five assists this season. She collected 14 points, four rebounds and eight assists against the Mountaineers.

Gregory, the Big 12’s leading scorer, had 26 points as she tried to lead the Wildcats to the win. 

Conference play continues for the Wildcats on the road against No. 11 Iowa State at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 11.