Cats avenge loss to Huskers

Kansas State coach Deb Patterson doesn't often let lightning strike twice.

Using every player on her bench, the Wildcats avenged their only conference loss with an 89-69 win Saturday afternoon at Bramlage Coliseum.

"They took the floor focused and intense," Patterson said. "There was lots of energy from the crowd and being at hom. It was almost a mirror image of the game at Nebraska."

In that game, the Huskers blew open the game early on en route to an 81-63 win in Lincoln. This time around, it was the Wildcats in control.

Six Wildcats scored in double-digits, led by Kendra Wecker's 18 points, as Kansas State used a 26-8 run midway through the game to bury the Huskers in front of an announced crowd of 10,300. It was the Cats' 30th-straight regular-season home win and pushed their current winning streak to six games.

"We got our rears kicked up in Lincoln," Wecker said. "We came out aggressive today on the defensive end. We made them take tough shots. We defended well."

Nebraska was out-shot -- nay, blown-out -- from beyond the 3-point arc, a bombs-away strategy which won them the season's first contest. This time, Kansas State connected on 10-of-16 3-pointers while the Huskers hit just 2-of-15.

"We shot 34 free throws, out-rebounded them by 10, and still lose by 20," Husker coach Connie Yori said. "That says something about K-State at the offensive end."

Nicole Ohlde and Laurie Koehn scored 11 points each, while freshman Claire Coggins and Twiggy McIntyre provided valuable minutes off the bench. McIntyre finished with 13 points while Coggins chipped in 12.

But for Coggins, the lanky freshman from Lee's Summit, Mo., the stats that don't show up in the final box score were how she impacted the game. Several diving saves kept loose balls alive, she recorded a game-high three steals and helped shutdown penetration lanes which proved to be the Wildcats' bane against the Huskers in Lincoln.

"I just wanted to go after every loose ball there was," Coggins said. "I just had to come out and play chaotic on the defensive end. It was tight."

By tight, Coggins meant outstanding, good, fantastic, exciting. Whatever the adjective, Patterson was just as pleased.

"I'll be grilled if I start using their lingo," Patterson said. "But yes, she's playing really ‘tight' right now."

Katie Morse scored 14 points to lead the Huskers. Alexa Johnson had 12 points and eight boards and Chelsea Aubry had 11, but the high-scoring combo of Margaret Richards and Keasha Cannon-Johnson combined to shoot just 4-of-22 from the field.

"The enthusiasm and intensity wasn't there as much," Cannon-Johnson said. "Not as much as the first time. They were the better team as opposed to the first game."

Nebraska opened leads of 2-0 and 4-3 before Kansas State took the lead for good a post move by Ohlde with 17:46 remaining in the first half. The Huskers only made five of their first 14 shots from the field.

The Wildcats then used short scoring spurts of five and six points to slowly edge ahead. A Koehn fast break basket opened a 20-13 lead, forcing Yori to burn a timeout.

Kansas State wasn't done, though. After the Huskers sliced a double-digit lead to nine with just over four minutes remaining in the half, the Wildcats used an 8-0 run to build their largest lead heading into the locker room, 41-26.

"They're so difficult to guard," Yori said. "You prepare based on strengths and weaknesses. They have no weaknesses. With the starting lineup you have four kids who can shoot the 3 and an All-American center. They're very difficult to match up with."

At one point late in the first half, after losing possession on a jump ball, Yori yelled to her team, "We can't waste possessions!"

The Huskers responded by being called for an offensive foul and throwing the ball away on successive trips down the court.

Nebraska turned the ball over 10 times in the first half, including twice in the final 1:30. They committed 17 in the game.

Kansas State, meanwhile, was lights-out on the offensive end. The Cats shot 46.9 percent from the field, but were even better the further away. They hit 11-of-17 3-pointers -- a 64.7 percent clip -- to Nebraska's 2-for-17 effort.

Those 3-pointers -- three by McIntyre and Koehn, a couple by Coggins -- were largely when the Wildcats were simply left open. Penetration and kick-outs accounted for most of the Wildcats' offense, as the they amassed 26 assists in the game. Wecker and Megan Mahoney each had six dimes, while Ohlde and fellow post Shanda Murdoch each had five.

"Our assist numbers show we super-evolved tonight," Wecker said. "Everybody was knocking it down. We were just very well-balanced on the offensive end."

The second half was much of the same, with Kansas State blowing out of the locker room to open a 57-31 lead with 15:50 to go. From there it was academic, as Kansas State improved its Big 12 mark to 9-1, 18-3 overall, and stayed deadlocked with Texas atop the league. Nebraska fell to 16-7, 6-6 in the Big 12.

Ohlde left the game with 6:29 remaining, favoring her right ankle and giving Cat fans a brief scare. She said after the game she was fine, though, and it appears Kansas State is fine as well. The Wildcats have won their last six games by nearly 20 points per contest.

"We're playing great team-basketball," Wecker said.

BOX SCORE
Kansas State 89

Ohlde 4-7 3-7 11, Newsome 0-0 0-0 0, Koehn 4-8 0-0 11, Coggins 4-8 2-2 12, McIntyre 3-6 4-4 13, Domenico 0-0 0-0 0, Smith 1-2 0-0 2, Murdoch 0-2 2-3 2, Mahoney 2-2 1-2 6, Madden 4-8 1-2 6, Dutmer 2-2 0-0 5, McFarland 0-0 0-0 0, Wecker 8-15 1-1 18

Nebraska 69

Johnson 3-12 5-6 12, Morse 5-7 4-4 14, Johansen 2-7 3-4 8, Richards 2-11 1-5 5, Cannon-Johnson 2-11 2-3 6, Kephart 0-1 0-0 0, Hardy 4-7 0-0 8, Lightfoot 0-0 4-5 4, Gerhart 0-0 0-0 0, Aubry 5-8 2-7 12

Rebounds: KSU 34, NU 44 Assists: KSU 26, NU 13 Turnovers: KSU 14, NU 18 Steals: KSU 7, NU 8

GAME NOTES
---Kansas State forward Amy Dutmer hails from York, Neb.
---The last time these two teams met, Nebraska pounded the Wildcats 81-63 in Lincoln. However, Kansas State is 20-8 against the Huskers in games played in Manhattan.
---Kansas State is 5-3 all-time on Valentine's Day, losing its last time out to Oklahoma during the 2000-01 season.
---Kansas State had won 30 consecutive regular-season games in Bramlage Coliseum, including an 11-0 mark this season, entering Saturday's contest.
---Kendra Wecker broke into the top 10 all-time in scoring at Kansas State with 18 points against the Huskers.
---Laurie Koehn ranks seventh nationally in three-point field goals per game, draining 69 this season alone.
---Nebraska had won its last two games entering Saturday's contest, with wins over Oklahoma State and Kansas.
Entering Saturday's contest, Nebraska had won seven of the last 10 contests between the two schools.


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