The banner in Bramlage Coliseum listing the Sweet 16 appearances of the Kansas State women’s basketball team won’t need to be taken down this summer.
The seventh-seeded Wildcats lost to No. 2 seed Stanford 69-48 on Monday, ending their second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance under third-year coach Jeff Mittie and the illustrious careers of seniors Breanna Lewis and Kindred Wesemann.
“It’s hard to think about (moving on from Lewis and Wesemann) right now,” Mittie said. “I would say that I feel bad that we didn’t — I didn’t — put them in a position to play better today. It’s disappointing sitting here.”
Lewis, who finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds, leaves K-State as one of the highest scoring centers in program history. Her 1,552 points trail only Nicole Ohlde, who scored 2,241 points during 2000-2004. She also became the only player to earn an All-Big 12 defensive team selection, which she did three times, and is seventh in the Big 12 with 282 career blocked shots.
Wesemann, who played at Pleasant Hill, had 11 points and 5 assists. She is the second Wildcat to hand out 300 or more assists (329) and make 250 or more three-pointers (264) in a career.
And while they were making their place in the record book, they led a team that went 11-19 their freshman year to two straight 19-win seasons and then as seniors won 23 games, the most since the 2008-09 team was 25-8.
“I think we put this program back where it needs to be,” Wesemann said. “We need to get past the second round next year. … I’m really excited to come back and watch them next year.”
“Them” will include Blue Springs alum Karyla Middlebrook, who scored the game’s first two points on K-State’s opening possession. The junior guard missed her next five attempts, but she wasn’t the only one having trouble sticking shots. K-State went from shooting 50 percent from the field in the first quarter to just 30 percent shooting in the second.
The Wildcats’ field-goal percentage defense didn’t click well in the first half, either, as Stanford hit 14 of 26 attempts (53.8 percent).
For a brief moment in the third quarter, it looked as though Stanford might have lost steam. Brittany McPhee, who was 4 for 4 on three-point plays in the first half, missed her fifth attempt at a three. The Cardinal had failed to convert their first four possessions of the half.
Then, Alanna Smith, a sophomore who has excelled coming off the Stanford bench, got an easy layup with 7:43 left in the quarter to start an 8-0 run for the Cardinal offense.
K-State added 10 more points in the period, including a three-pointer that Kayla Goth hit from the left corner to cut Stanford’s lead to 20.
The Wildcats (23-11) trailed by 18 at the end of the third quarter — and would never get any closer.
K-State focused so hard to eliminate the threat of Karlie Samuelson, who entered the second round with a 48.3 field goal percentage and 85 three-pointers, that it let McPhee and Smith put up 21 and 19 points, respectively.
And that was exactly what Stanford had planned for.
“Our coaches had told us they leave shooters open and usually guard the players with the best field goal percentage,” said McPhee, who was 5 for 7 beyond the arc. “They told us these are the shots that are gonna be there.”
Although Samuelson didn’t take off offensively, she still grabbed three rebounds, dished out two assists and stole two balls in her 31 minutes on the court.
McPhee and Smith also led Stanford on the glass with seven rebounds each, which helped the Cardinal outrebound K-State 39-25. Stanford also won the turnover battle, holding K-State to just four points off Stanford’s 14 turnovers. Stanford capitalized on K-State’s 15 with 20 points.
“We were pressing a little bit to make plays, trying too hard, doing out of character things,” Mittie said. “…We did not control the ball very well. Turnovers were a problem for us. The glass was a real problem for us. Not much went right for us early in this game.”
By a fluke, K-State got to play host to the first and second rounds of the NCAA women’s tournament. Stanford had secured the right but had already committed its home arena to the Pac-12 women’s gymnastics meet.
K-State shouldn’t have had the advantage of its purple-trimmed Bramlage Coliseum, which was occupied by 3,969 on Monday evening. But Stanford didn’t need its home crowd anyway.
Stanford (30-5) will travel to Lexington, Ky., for regional play this weekend at Rupp Arena. The Cardinal, which is making its 10th consecutive appearance in the Sweet 16, will play Texas (25-8), the No. 3 seed out of Austin, on Friday.
STANFORD 69, KANSAS STATE 48
Kansas State (23-11): Williams 2-3 1-1 5, Lewis 3-7 3-6 9, Goth 2-7 1-2 6, Middlebrook 1-6 0-0 2, Wesemann 5-6 0-0 11, Page 0-5 0-0 0, Page 2-5 0-0 6, Sheble 2-3 0-0 4, Willock 1-5 0-0 2, Martin 1-2 1-2 3, Thomson 0-0 0-0 0, Totals 19-49 6-11 48.
Stanford (30-5): Johnson 2-2 1-2 5, McCall 5-11 0-0 10, McPhee 7-14 2-2 21, Roberson 0-5 0-0 0, Samuelson 2-3 0-0 6, Fingall 1-5 1-2 3, Smith 7-13 4-4 19, Coffee 1-2 0-0 2, Carrington 0-1 0-0 0, Romano 0-0 0-0 0, Sniezek 1-1 1-2 3, Totals 26-57 9-12 69. Half: Stanford 39-21. Att: 3,969.