MANHATTAN, Kan— The annual Kansas State-Texas women's basketball match-up is always billed to be a great exhibition of basketball and over the last four seasons whether it's played in Bramlage Coliseum or the Frank Erwin Center the game never fails to live up to the hype.
The only consequence that comes from these contests is that one team has to lose and Wednesday night the No. 18 Wildcats were that one team.
The No. 13 Longhorns defeated K-State 64-60 and snapped the Wildcats' 22-consecutive home win streak against Big 12 opponents. The final score also marked the first time since 1983 that Texas left Manhattan with a win.
This game not only provides a great showcase of Big 12 talent, but it's usually pivotal in the battle for the Big 12 regular season championship. The Longhorns at 16-7 overall and 9-3 in conference play remain in second with Iowa State and Texas Tech, just one win behind Baylor, and still have a very good chance to repeat as champs. On the other hand, the probability that K-State will repeat as conference champs is slim to none as it drops to 17-6 and 8-4 tied with Nebraska.
Throughout the 2004-05 season K-State has learned its' lesson on living and dying by the 3-pointer.
Offensively speaking, that is.
Defensively, the Wildcats have been killed by teams who get hot from beyond the arc. In fact, every K-State conference loss can more or less be traced back to a lack of defense on the three.
The Wildcats are 0-4 when their opponent's 3-point percentage is equal to or greater than their own percentage.
Texas shot a blazing 58.8 percent behind senior point guard Jamie Carey's 6-8 performance from beyond the arc. Carey, who went 1-15 from the field and 0-6 from 3-point range against Texas Tech on Sunday, led the Longhorns with 21 points.
Carey couldn't miss a shot, especially those in which the Wildcat defenders were no where to be found.
"The past few days at practice we were working on not letting Jamie Carey get open looks from the outside," K-State senior Laurie Koehn said. "And I guess it didn't carry over to the game, because she got wide-open looks right from the start."
Senior forward Heather Schreiber also benefited from K-State's lack of perimeter defense scoring four treys and 14 points on the night.
"They're a great team, but we have to learn that you have to adjust to game-time situations like Carey and Schreiber getting hot on the three," said K-State forward Megan Mahoney. "We need to adjust to that, but we need to learn from it and get better the next game."
Credit Texas sophomore standout Tiffany Jackson for garnering most, if not all of the Wildcat defensive attention. The 2004 Big 12 Rookie of the Year had problems navigating the crowded paint and was held to a conference-low eight points.
Head Coach Jody Conradt was pleased with Jackson's play despite her low scoring.
"She (Jackson) showed a lot of patience. She's seen every defense there is to try to slow her down and they did that, but they didn't win."
Probably the lone offensive bright spot for K-State was senior All-American Kendra Wecker who led all scores with 28 points and 12 rebounds, her 46th career double-double. For the second consecutive game the 5-foot-11 forward was the lone Wildcat scorer in double figures, accounting for 47 percent of the team's points.
"We went into this game saying she'll get her 20 or 25 points and she'll get her 12 rebounds," coach Conradt said. "I don't think there's any way you can really stop her. We wanted to make it hard for the rest of her team to score."
Wecker kept the game close in the second half cutting an eight point deficit to two at the 3:10 mark on a shot that can be added to the National Player of the Year candidate's shooting repertoire: a mid-air tip-in.
On the next possession K-State took its' only lead of the half on a Koehn 3-pointer to put the Wildcats up 60-59.
Texas, who has the second toughest schedule in the nation and is no stranger to pressure, had the answer.
Junior Nina Norman got an open look, as the K-State defender failed to fight through a screen, and hit the 16-foot jumper. The Longhorns regained the lead 61-60 with 1:48 remaining. On the other end of the floor Schreiber took a charge, as senior Brie Madden attempted to go baseline, and put the ball and the game back into Texas' hands.
"That was probably the sequence, offense and defense, that allowed us to keep our confidence and to know that we had a chance to win the game," Conradt said. "I think we were on the ropes there for a little while, our lead dwindled, and we were able to make some plays. And that's what good players and good teams do."
Kansas State and Texas were tied 26-all at halftime and to no surprise both teams fought hard the following 20 minutes with the game once again going down to the wire. This time the Longhorns came out on top.
‘Alex, what are the number of points that separate the ‘Cats and ‘Horns over the last four regular season games?'
To the winner goes a shot at another Big 12 championship. And for the loser we have some lovely parting gifts: an uphill battle as the post-season approaches.
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