Cats blitz Tigers in Big 12 Tourney

Missouri may have just as well picked its poison in its second-round matchup with Kansas State in the Wildcats' 77-58 win Wednesday night at Reunion Arena in Dallas.

There was Kendra Wecker, the ever-present forward who has plagued the Tigers in the past. She scored a season-high 26 points against them in the regular-season matchup, and poured in 25 Wednesday night.

There was Laurie Koehn, who opened the game with a pair of 3-pointers to ignite a 14-2 run right out of the gates, capped by -- who else -- back-to-back Wecker jumpshots.

There was Nicole Ohlde, the senior All-American who didn't need to score, really, but decided to take over at times in the second half just for kicks, scoring four of the Cats' first six out of halftime.

Heck, there was Jessica McFarland who scored two buckets, Chelsea Domenico knocking down 3s -- she had just three 3-pointers the entire season -- and Megan Mahoney dishing out a Big 12 Tournament record 12 assists.

"It's just the way our offense works," Wecker said after the game. "We were getting into transition, executing our offense. When we're doing that, someone will have a good night."

Not just someone, but an entire team. At one point in the second half, the Wildcats were hitting 71 percent from the field and had knocked down 9-of-12 3-pointers.

"We had good ball movement, we were pushing the ball well. I liked our board work and I feel good about the offensive end," Wildcat coach Deb Patterson said after halftime.

The Wildcats used that 14-0 run over a six minute stretch of the first half to pummel the Tigers, who had streaked into the Big 12 Tournament as one of the league's hottest teams. A Domenico 3-pointer while leading 26-15 triggered another run, in which two Wecker jumpers and a Koehn 3-pointer pulled the Cats ahead 37-15. The Wildcats then scored on four of their last five possessions into halftime to take a 48-25 lead at the break.

"They were hitting everything they were putting up," Tigers coach Cindy Stein said. "Maybe if this was football we could play better -- we could just tackle them."

The Wildcats didn't cool off in the locker room, though, scoring on their first five possessions of the second half, capped by an alley-oop basket by Wecker. The Cat defense then turned up the heat, shutting out the Tigers for nearly five minutes and going on another 8-0 run to lead 65-31.

Subbing liberally to rest the starters, Kansas State allowed Missouri to go on a 10-0 run before Patterson had enough. Back in came the starters, and the Cats subsequently went on an 8-0 run of their own, capped by Mahoney's 12th assist on a fastbreak basket by Ohlde. At that point, Kansas State's "Big 3" -- Wecker, Ohlde and Koehn -- were a combined 23-31 from the field, building a 73-41 lead.

"When you have a post like Ohlde and guards like Laurie and Amy (Dutmer) to knock down 3s, we're tough to guard when we're hitting on all cylinders," Wecker said.

From there it was a mere formality, as Patterson emptied the bench and began awaiting the winner of Colorado and Oklahoma in the night cap.

Stretch James led the Tigers with 18 points in just 20 minutes, but leading scorer and All-Big 12 forward Evan Unrau shot just 4-of-12 and was 0-for-5 on 3-pointers, scoring 17.

Wecker finished 12-of-17 for her game-high 25 points, chipping in six boards. Ohlde finished 7-of-9 from the field for 14 points, Koehn scored 15 -- including 5-of-7 3-pointers -- and Mahoney finished with six points and those 12 assists.

Kansas State outshot Missouri 54.7 percent -- 56 percent from 3-point range -- to 35 percent, and forced 17 turnovers.

"We really came out with the mindset of being efficient and effective," Patterson said. "We were overall more aggressive than we were the last time (a double-overtime win in Columbia). We maintained our commitment to balance and were making good decisions relative to our offense."


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