It was evident coming out of the locker room at halftime that Iowa State wasn't going to get burned three years in a row. In just four minutes of play the Cyclones overcame an eight point deficit and outscored K-State 20-4.
The Wildcats were unable to regain any intensity or confidence and lost 71-66 Saturday afternoon. It was just the third loss at home this season for Kansas State (17-6, 7-5).
"At some point in time, something happened that we did not come out ready to compete," K-State coach Deb Patterson said. "That's my job to have this team ready after halftime."
The Wildcats needed to establish a presence in the paint to be successful against the predominately perimeter-driven Cyclones. And they did that in the first 20 minutes outscoring their opponent 18 to 10. Jessica McFarland, Marlies Gipson and JoAnn Hamlin each scored six points in the half.
But the easy lay-ups and bunny shots didn't drop in the final 20 minutes. The Wildcats attempted 41 shots and hit only 12. K-State played very uncharacteristic in terms of intensity as well. They weren't running down the loose balls or the long rebounds.
The Cyclones scored 17 second chance points in the game and out-rebounded the Cats 42 to 35.
Iowa State (14-8, 5-6) was led by junior point guard Lyndsey Medders, who had missed the previous three games with a foot sprain that she suffered in the loss to K-State Jan. 29. Her biggest contributions came in the final minute sinking 9 of 10 free throws.
"I didn't really know how I would feel or play," Medders said.
"I knew I was going to be winded, so Coach (Fennelly) asked me how many minutes I would be able to play at about 9 o'clock last night- and I told him about 38."
She saw 34 minutes of action and finished with a game-high 26 points.
The Wildcats were able to keep things close with an 8 to 2 run. And two 3-point baskets by junior guard Twiggy McIntyre with about three minutes left on the clock gave K-State a 60-57 lead, but Iowa State's Brittany Wilkins answered back with two of her own answers from beyond the arc.
Fennelly said he was frustrated with the first 30 minutes from his fifth-year senior, but that her play down the stretch was key to the Cyclones' first win in Manhattan since 2002.
"We were wobbling twice, we're down three, Twiggy sticks a couple and just made an amazing couple plays on us," Fennelly said.
"And right when you're sensing your wobble a little, Brit comes down and bang, bang, gives you some life."
The Wildcats wouldn't make another basket until Kim Dietz's 3-pointer with 15 seconds remaining. However, by that point it was too little too late and K-State's only option was to foul Medders, who was an 89-percent free-throw shooter.
The Cyclones got 16 points from Wilkins and 13 from Heather Ezell.
K-State was led by freshman Marlies Gipson and McIntyre who each scored 14. Dietz and McFarland finished with ten a piece. And freshman point guard Shalee Lehning dished out ten assists and no turnovers.
McIntyre saw a significant increase in minutes compared to the last time the Cats were in Bramlage. She played 25 minutes versus Iowa State.
That's 25 more minutes than she played against Mizzou Feb. 1.
And she was more than willing to put the loss on her and her teammate's shoulders and indirectly answer why she was benched or better yet explain the "coach's decision."
"It is always an honor and a privilege to step out on the floor and play at Bramlage Coliseum," McIntyre said.
"Like coach said, we just came out in the second half and the energy was not there. By no means do I blame her. I take full responsibility, and I am sure if you ask one of my teammates they would say the same thing. Everyone is out there with their jerseys on, and we did not get the job done."
Lesson learned. Get the job done or get benched.
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