Wildcats Learn St. Joe's Motto the Hard Way

MANHATTAN, Kan.-- It was a disappointing night for the Kansas State women's basketball team as they lost in the championship game of the Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic for the second consecutive year.

Saint Joseph's University (6-0) overcame at 17 point deficit with just under 15 minutes left in the game to beat K-State 78-68 Saturday night in Bramlage Coliseum.

It looked like the Wildcats would remain undefeated, going into intermission with a 44-32 lead. Kansas State shot 53-percent from the field and out-rebounded the Hawks 17-12.

The Cats trailed by five early on, but eventually took advantage of St. Joe's preoccupation with perimeter shooting.

"We knew if we were going to be susceptible to something it was going to be the paint because of our high pressure on the wings and our guards were going to help, but they had to be conscience of the 3-point shooters," Hawks coach Cindy Griffin said.

The posts went to work and were responsible for over half of K-State's points at intermission.

Kansas State (5-1) stayed with the productive post-game for six minutes in the second half. Freshman center JoAnn Hamlin was unstoppable putting up ten points and extending the lead again to 17 points.

With 14:03 remaining on the clock Hamlin, who had 20 points and only two fouls, took a breather on the bench.

It was the turning point of the ballgame.

St. Joe's truly personified the "Hawk Will Never Die" motto. And they weren't going to leave Kansas without a fight.

Tournament MVP Ayahna Cornish led the comeback with a 13-0 run cutting the lead to ten at the 11:30 mark. She finished with a team-high 20 points and five assists.

The Wildcats had no answers as the Hawks continued to chip away at the lead. Hamlin sat for a little over seven minutes.

"I think we were looking for situations where we might be able to make a bigger impact defensively, looking for ways to stop the bleeding on the defensive end of the floor," K-State coach Deb Patterson said.

"I think my preoccupation was really trying to defend at a higher level."

By the time Hamlin checked back in, the damage was already done. It took the freshman 38 seconds to hit her career-high 22nd point which tied the game up at 63.

But the Hawks were too much, outscoring Kansas State 13-2 in the final 3:45.

All-Tournament member Faith Schutte finished with 18 points. Both she and Cornish scored 12 points in the second half.

During the final 20 minutes the Hawks hit 53-percent of their shots and held the Wildcats to 33-percent from the field and just 12.5-percent from beyond the arc.

Guard Twiggy McIntyre, who earned tournament honors, and senior Jessica McFarland each recorded 12 points for the night.

Freshman Shalee Lehning also earned tournament honors, but was held scoreless with six rebounds and four assists.

Kansas State will get a much needed day off on Sunday, after playing five games in seven days, and will return to practice Monday to prepare for Louisiana Tech the next day.

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