K-State women end 10-game losing streak, beat Kansas, 77-66

Wildcats bolt to 15-0 lead, claim first Big 12 win

The Salina Journal
Kansas State's Ayoka Lee works against Kansas defenders Chandler Prater and Ioanna Chatzileonti during Saturday's Sunflower Showdown game at Bramlage Coliseum. Lee had 28 points and 16 rebounds in the Wildcats' 77-66 victory.

MANHATTAN — Kansas State's women were in no position to be picky.

The fact that the Wildcats snapped a 10-game losing streak on their home floor against rival Kansas was a bonus.

"It's been a miserable three weeks in terms of just trying to help them and trying to play better," K-State coach Jeff Mittie said after watching his Wildcats lead wire-to-wire Saturday afternoon on the way to a 77-66 victory over the Jayhawks at Bramlage Coliseum. "Some of those losses have been so close and so gut-wrenching, all those things.

"So I've been really proud of the group coming in each day and working hard, trying to do the things to get better."

K-State, which had not won since beating UMKC, 74-57, on Dec. 14, got better in a hurry against KU. The Wildcats scored the game's first 15 points and never looked back, stretching the advantage to 39-18 at halftime, turning back a Jayhawk rally late in the third period and cruising home with the victory.

It was the first Big 12 win for K-State, which improved to 6-12 overall, 1-10 in the league. KU, which won the first meeting between the teams 70-63 on Jan. 23 in Lawrence, fell to 7-11 and 3-9.

Sophomore center Ayoka Lee led K-State with 28 points and 16 rebounds, her 25th career double-double. The Wildcats also got 17 points from Rachel Ranke, plus 15 points and six assists from Emilee Ebert.

And K-State did it without the services of guards Christianna Carr and Sydney Goodson.

"It just feels really good to get one," said Lee, who was 13 of 22 from the field, plus sparked the defense with three steals and seven blocked shots. "But it's on to the next one now and try to keep the momentum going into our next game."

Coming out of the gates fast was critical for the Wildcats, who shut KU out for the first six minutes in building the early lead.

"Obviously the start was a confidence-builder for the entire group," Mittie said. "To get off to a start like that in a rivalry game in a stretch that has been really hard on our team to be confident."

KU did make one run at the Wildcats late in the third quarter, trimming the lead to 55-45 with 1:02 left, but K-State responded with a free throw each from Ebert and Cymone Goodrich and a layup from Lee at the 9-second mark to push it back to 14 heading to the fourth.

For KU, which shot just 32% for the game, Mia Vucsik had 24 points on eight 3-pointers. Holly Kersgieter added 22 points. The Jayhawks made 13 3-pointers in the game on 34 attempts.

K-State shot 46% and outrebounded Kansas, 46-41, with Laura Mackie adding nine to go with nine points.