Wanted: 40 minutes of Consistency

MANHATTAN, Kan-- The Kansas State Wildcats have been playing with fire in the Big 12 this season. Against the Missouri Tigers, the second best team in the league, the Cats finally got burned.

The K-State faithful watched helplessly as Mizzou battled back from a 22 point deficit to beat the Wildcats in overtime 66-65 in Bramlage Coliseum Wednesday night.

In four of the last five conference games, Kansas State (15-5, 5-4) has allowed teams down 17 or more points to climb their way back into the game.

K-State coach Deb Patterson attributes their inconsistencies to inexperience.

"When you're working to build a lead or you're working to sustain a lead, especially when you're a young team, there's a learning curve," Patterson said.

"Sometimes in games, things come easier early and as the game progresses our basketball team needs to learn how to execute consistency as it gets harder."

Things came very easy to the Cats in the first 57 seconds of the game as they opened on a 7-0 run. Soon that lead was extended to 17 points as freshman point guard Shalee Lehning circled through and around the lane and dished it to a wide open Kim Dietz from beyond the arc.

That play was one of the last times Kansas State displayed any kind of rhythm.

In the first half, the game looked very similar to the contest against the Tigers in Columbia on Jan. 7. The home team dominated, while the visitors determined which way was left and that the last name on your jersey should be on your back.

Junior guard Claire Coggins led the way for the Cats with 10 points and K-State went into the locker room shooting 54-percent from the field.

Missouri hit just six field goals and saw limited action from their leading scorer senior LaToya Bond, who got in early foul trouble. In six minutes of play, Bond scored one point.

"A lot of things that happened in the first half were uncharacteristic of us, but we have a tendency to do that when we want something so badly," Mizzou coach Cindy Stein said.

"Our defense had to get us back, we had to be confident and we had to believe we could win the game.

The Tigers (16-4, 6-2) executed that second half plan perfectly and it started with putting the ball in the hands of probably the best point guard in the conference.

LaToya Bond shredded the Wildcat defense by penetrating the lane, getting to the free throw line and hitting from beyond the arc.

In ten minutes Bond had put up 16 second half points and cut the lead to just five.

Kansas State's only offensive counter was freshman center JoAnn Hamlin, who led the Cats with 23 points. And the word "only" is no exaggeration.

Hamlin scored 57-percent (17 of 30) of K-State's points in the second half and overtime period, including two big baskets to put them up by nine.

Mizzou charged back as the Cats turned the ball over six times and eventually tied things up at 57 with 1:27 left thanks to a jumper by former Wildcat Tiffany Brooks.

Kansas State's Claire Coggins had a chance to win the game at the buzzer but came short.

"I had a great look tonight," said Coggins who didn't score any points in the final 25 minutes of the match.

"I pulled up early instead of taking one more dribble and just hitting the lay-up, which I probably could've done. I've replayed that probably 18 times in my mind since."

Mizzou had all the momentum going into overtime. K-State looked disgusted as they huddled during the time out. And the crowd of 5,587 in Bramlage Coliseum was quite somber and some fair-weather fans even left before the period began.

A 3-point basket from Carlynn Savant gave the Tigers their first lead of the game. The Cats regained the one-point advantage thanks to two free throws from Dietz with 15.3 seconds left on the clock.

And that's when the big-time play maker made a big-time play.

Bond took it hard to the basket off of a screen, pulled up and sank the game-winner with three seconds remaining. She finished with 21 points.

With the win Mizzou sweeps the season series against K-State and picks up their first win in Manhattan in five years.

"I think we've executed very well the last four to five minutes of a basketball game and we've executed on the front end of the game, but that middle section right now to me is not at all about laziness or complacency it's just about learning the discipline of intensity and it's a process," Patterson said.

"I think we're very close and it's disappointing when you see a lead chipped away, but it's a progress of growing. It's part of the challenge that we face."


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