Thanks to Laurie Koehn keeping the Lady Wildcats in the game in the first half with 10 points including 2-3 from the 3 point circle and a strong second half from Kendra Wecker along a valuable defensive performance from freshman Shana Wheeler Kansas State extended its win streak over K.U. to seven in a 63-45 victory.
"In the first half we were rushing things with too many turnovers, said Wecker who finished the game with her 41st career double/double with 18 points and 11 rebounds. We didn't respond well and it took us a while to get going."
Kansas State come out very sluggish looking as if there was still the bad taste of the Iowa State game lingering in their mouths. The Lady Cats allowed Kansas to have hopes for the upset which is a dangerous thing to give a rebuilding, beleaguered program. Kansas junior guard Kaylee Brown helped to fire up the Jayhawk faithful largely out numbered by the Wildcat crowd by hitting 3-5 from three point territory and finishing with 11 points leading to a 26 all halftime score.
"Coach stressed at halftime the importance of coming out and getting a couple of quick baskets, said Wecker. We came out aggressively and overcame, and in the second half that was K-State basketball. I also didn‘t have any offensive rebounds in the first half and I took that personally."
Indeed it was K-State basketball in the second half as the Lady Wildcats came out with purpose getting the first two baskets to take a 30-26 lead. They also turned up the intensity on the other end playing aggressive defense, frustrating the Jayhawks and holding first half star Kaylee Brown to only one field goal in the second half. The Lady Jayhawks were held to a meager 25 percent from the field hitting only 7-25 and dooming their confidence as the game wore on.
The most welcomed performances was from freshman forward Shana Wheeler whose performance didn't show up big in the box score, but what she did aided in the win as much as anything else. She had a great defensive performance against K.U.'s 6-2 Crystal Kemp holding her to 10 points most of it coming late in the game when the outcome was decided, blocked 3 shots, had 2 steals and added 7 points. Players of size inside have given K-State difficulty this season and Kemp was a concern all week long in practice.
"Stopping Kemp was something we worked on a lot in practice, said Wheeler coach stressed we had to keep moving, stay active, and I had to use my quickness, we knew stopping her was going to be a big factor."
The play of Wheeler in her best game to date early in her career at K-State was a welcomed site to the rest of the Wildcats.
"Shana worked hard tonight, said Wecker and played great defense on Krystal. She was able to stay composed after a couple of early fouls and use her athleticism inside. I got the ball to her a couple of times and she was able to score"
The importance of Laurie Koehn's shooting in the first half saved K-State from facing a deficit going into the locker room.
"You have to defend Laurie every time, said Wecker because if you're not careful she will hit 4-5 in a row and she started the game off well and we needed that."
Shana Wheeler picked the perfect time to have such a good overall game because the freshman from Lee Summit, Missouri had her own cheering section with a huge group of people from her hometown making the trip to Lawrence .
"I had a lot of people here at the game tonight, said Wheeler, there was family, friends, people from my church and just Wildcat fans overall because it looked like we had more fans here than they did."
"You can get caught up in all the distractions that comes with your in state rival, said Wecker but getting a win like this is big. Game by game in this league is always going to be tough."
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