Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson could not have scripted a much better start for her team than the one it put together Wednesday night.
The Wildcats waltzed into enemy territory and scored on their first eight possessions to score the first 21 points while holding the Jayhawks scoreless.
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Soon, the magic faded and Kansas State saw its lead slowly disappear. But the Wildcats held on for a 76-68 victory. The win snapped a three-game losing streak against the Jayhawks and gave the Wildcats a 63-45 lead in the overall series.
“We knew that in order to win the game it was going to take some real effective offense, because you know KU is going to get theirs,” Patterson said. “We were fortunate to get off to a hot start, and they obviously were flat at the beginning which gave us a window.”
The Wildcats held the Jayhawks scoreless until the 13:35 mark in the first half when junior forward Chelsea Gardner hit a free throw to spark a quick 6-0 run. Prior to that, the Jayhawks were zero-for-six from the field with three turnovers.
“I couldn’t be more disappointed, more upset or more frustrated,” Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. “We have always embraced our matchup and our rivalry with them since before the league changed, but we don’t show up with any pop and let them smack us around.”
The Jayhawks also struggled to manage freshman guard Leticia Romero, who scored 16 points for the Wildcats in the first half while shooting seven-for-11 from the field. She finished with a game-high 26 points on 10-for-16 shooting.
After cutting the lead to 10 points midway through the second half, CeCe Harper went on a personal 10-2 run to put the Jayhawks in contention. Moments later, Dakota Gonzalez tied the score with a layup, but the Wildcats responded with a 19-11 run to close out the victory.
“You know teams are going to make a run at you at some point and so for us, it was more about technically what are we going to do on our next offensive possession,” Patterson said. “We started standing and got real ball dominant in one or two hands, so we tried to loosen that up with play calls and substitutions. People came in and did a nice job of getting us back in the flow.”
Romero was one of four Wildcats to finish in double figures followed by Kindred Wesemann (15), Ashlynn Knoll (12) and Lawrence native Chantay Caron (10).
Asia Boyd led Kansas with 18 points while Chelsea Gardner added 15 points and 10 rebounds for her Big 12-leading 12th double-double of the season.