A 27-5 second half run propelled Kansas State (13-3, 4-1) to a 74-50 victory over Texas A&M Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum. The win extended Kansas State's home win streak against Big 12 opposition to 21.
Before the contest K-State coach Deb Patterson said Texas A&M (11-4, 2-3) had the capabilities of slowing down a game and making the opposition play ugly.
The Aggies capitalized off of four Wildcat turnovers and 0-for-5 shooting with a 9-1 run in the opening five minutes of the ballgame. K-State didn't score its first field goal until the 14:53 mark, a 3-pointer from senior guard Chelsea Domenico.
Kansas State senior Laurie Koehn attributes A&M's physical pressure defense and aggressiveness to the Wildcat's slow start.
"I think we weren't ready physically," said Koehn. "When you play a team that is really physical like they are and you don't come out and establish that you're going to be aggressive and you're going to be physical back, it can really mess you up."
Texas A&M freshman Morenike Atunrase scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the first half, including two consecutive lay-ups in the Aggies' opening run.
Koehn's ten-footer helped the Wildcats cut the margin to one on an 8-0 run of their own. There would be eight lead changes and 19 total turnovers before the Wildcats took a four-point advantage at halftime.
Sophomore Claire Coggins, who scored a game-high 11 points, started the second half with a 3-pointer to ignite K-State's separation from the Aggies.
"At one point enough is enough," said Coggins. "We just came out in the second half and approached it as this is our game, this is our tempo, this is our house and we're going to win."
Kansas State shot over 50 percent from the field and behind the arc while out-rebounding A&M, the Big 12 leaders in offensive rebounds, 36-25.
Freshman Shana Wheeler added a career-high 11 points in her seventh consecutive game as a Wildcat starter.
"In the second half we saw Shana continue to play very well and to build upon her overall presence both defensively and offensively," said Patterson.
The last two games Wheeler has set career-highs for minutes played (33), blocks (3) and rebounds (11).
"I feel like it's coming together the more and more I play," said Wheeler. "Each game I feel more comfortable."
Wheeler's continued improvement was no more visible than when she capped the 27-5 run by stealing the ball and driving coast-to-coast for the lay-in.
"I thought she was Nicole Ohlde for a minute," said Patterson.
The Wildcats head to Lubbock on Saturday to face the No. 10 Texas Tech Red Raiders at 3 pm.
Coach Patterson said it looked like her team wasn't prepared to start the game against Texas A&M. A lesson learned.
"When you go to Lubbock, its show up or perish quickly when you hit the floor there," warned Patterson.
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