For freshman guard Shalee Lehning her first ever collegiate start was an opportunity to make up for a lack-luster game against St. Joseph's on Saturday.
The Sublette, Kan., native played the entire 40 minutes against Louisiana Tech, the winningest program of all-time. And she didn't lose her intensity for one second in the Wildcat's 77-66 victory Tuesday evening in Bramlage Coliseum.
You don't expect many freshmen point guards to tie or break any rebounding records, especially ones held by people with the last name Wecker.
Lehning grabbed 20 rebounds, tying the single-game record held by Kendra Wecker and Carlisa Thomas.
"The balls were dropping my way and my teammates did a great job of blocking their women out," Lehning said. "It just so happened that I was in the right place at the right time."
During the post-game interviews Lehning still had enough energy to go another 40 minutes. And it's no wonder her teammates were able to feed off of her intensity and bounce back from the 17-point collapse against St. Joe's.
Junior Twiggy McIntyre scored a game-high 21 points and sophomore guard Kim Dietz got out of her shooting funk with 16.
"It's very inspiring and she (Lehning) raises the level of intensity of the players around her," K-State coach Deb Patterson said.
"This was the answer we were looking for in terms of bringing a higher level of passion, a higher level of energy."
Kansas State (6-1) dominated much of the first half, but 13 turnovers became 20 Louisiana Tech points. The Lady Techsters (3-2) also went on an 11-2 run to take a 36-35 lead at intermission.
"It really wasn't a pleasant discussion at halftime about our turnover numbers," Patterson said. "To get into the locker room with 13 was really beyond my comprehension."
The Wildcats took care of the ball in the second half and limited LA Tech's points off of turnovers to just 4.
And while it was a career night for Lehning, who just missed out on a triple-double with 9 points and 8 assists, it was likely a night to forget for junior Claire Coggins.
Against St. Joe's her stat line was dismal, with the biggest contribution being four fouls. And things didn't get much better in this game either. Coggins was the only player to sit the bench for the entire game.
"It was not a message, just a coach's decision," Patterson said.
Well, this obvious punishment didn't hurt the Cats against Louisiana Tech. But who knows what affect it will have on Coggins' confidence and what kind of positive or negative message this sends to the younger players.
The Wildcats final home non-conference game is Sunday against UMKC at 3 p.m.
K-State will need Coggins' athleticism along with fearless freshmen come Big 12 time.