Before January 29 Kansas State was the Big 12’s hottest team. The conference leading Wildcats were on pace for another regular season championship riding a six-game winning streak that included wins at Texas Tech and a 22-point dismantling of Iowa State.
However, all that was before January 29 in Boulder against the Colorado Buffaloes. It was the day the red-hot Wildcats started to cool off.
Maybe the altitude was to blame. Or maybe it was the chilly Rocky Mountain weather. For whatever reason, an aggressive, confident and defensively-solid K-State squad began to crumble against the conference’s worst team.
The Wildcats picked up the 81-70 victory, although the contest was anything but high-quality basketball. The Cats turned the ball over 22 times and looked passive on the offensive and defensive ends of the floor.
With the season wrapping up, there was no better time for the Cats (18-6, 9-4) to get back into the flow against the team that had started the ebb.
And there was no better time for the Kansas State seniors to start playing in the fashion we’ve all become accustomed to seeing the last three seasons.
Senior Kendra Wecker set the tone on the offensive end scoring the opening seven baskets for the Wildcats who never trailed the entire 40 minutes of play.
“I think things started with us when we went out to Colorado. We kind of struggled with them,” said Wecker, who led all scores with 20 points and 14 rebounds. “And hopefully tonight was an end to all of that.”
Wecker’s 47th career double-double had special significance on a night of records for the Wildcat seniors. The Marysville, Kan., native passed former teammate Nicole Ohlde’s career rebounding mark with a school-record 1,002 boards.
Wecker also moved into third place on the Big 12 career points list passing Angie Welle (ISU, 1999-02) with 2,164 points.
Senior Laurie Koehn’s 5 of 13 shooting from beyond the arc, not only put her in double-figures for the first time in three games, but made her the third best 3-pointer in NCAA history.
Koehn’s 364th career trey fell in the second half following a slight altercation near center court after which she had to adjust her shorts. Nonetheless, Koehn didn’t approach that shot any differently than the 363 before it.
“I was a little upset because it (the uncalled foul) seemed obvious, but I didn’t think, ‘I’m going to gun this shot just because of that,’ because I don’t think you can play on that type of emotion,” Koehn said. “You have to be smart and take shots that are there. And the shot happened to be there…so, I took it.”
Megan Mahoney solved her offensive production difficulties as well, adding 14 points, five rebounds and four assists. The senior forward became the all-time career assist leader ahead of Mary Jo Miller with 565 dishes.
Who better for Mahoney to pass to than say, Ohlde, Wecker or Koehn? In fact, the game’s first basket came as a result of Mahoney flipping the ball back to a streaking Wecker.
“It’s special,” Mahoney said. “That particular record has a lot to do with your teammates who work to get open and then knock them down for you. I’m happy I could do it on Senior Night in front of our fans.”
Kansas State’s seniors, Chelsea Domenico and Brie Madden, not only added quality minutes off the bench, but played with the consistency that has made this senior class the best in Wildcat history. Domenico recorded seven assists and zero turnovers, while Madden grabbed seven rebounds and had one block for the night.
Often times it’s one of these two seniors who start the fast-breaks, who set the screens on a defender on the perimeter, or who make the extra pass.
They’re the kind of plays that go unrecorded, made by players who aren’t in the spotlight.
It may have taken five games, but Kansas State basketball in its’ truest form found its’ way back to Bramlage Coliseum against the Buffs and it was no more evident than at the 13:18 mark of the first half with all five seniors on the floor at the same time.
Madden grabbed the defensive rebound and passed it up to Domenico at half-court, who skipped the ball over to Wecker near the left wing, who then found a wide-open Koehn behind the arc for three points.
Individual records are deceiving, because only one player is credited on the list. All the same, the letters K-S-U and the seasons played appear next to the individual’s name.
So for every record that appears: 1. Wecker, Kendra (KSU, 2001-05), remember it’s a symbiotic relationship.
You can’t have the individual without the team.