Defending National Champs - Too Much for Cats

MANHATTAN, Kan-- Kansas State is by far the most confident seven and eight team in the Big 12 conference.

As of Saturday they're the only seven and eight team in the conference…but it's not often a team on a four-game losing streak continues to gain confidence.

The Wildcats exuded self-assurance in the post-game press conference following the 79-70 loss to Baylor Saturday afternoon in Bramlage Coliseum.

"We're fighters, we're not going to just lie down and die because Baylor, the defending champions, beat us," K-State junior guard Claire Coggins said.

"We have confidence going into every game and we're going to keep our confidence because we're a really good team."

Kansas State (17-9, 7-8) has walked the walk going up against two top-10 teams in a span of just five days.

As was the case on Tuesday against Oklahoma, the Cats were able to keep things close the entire game against the Bears. In the first half alone there were ten lead changes and five ties.

But again, K-State just couldn't match the play of the All-American.

Senior forward Sophia Young isn't quite as colossal as Courtney Paris, but she's got about three years more experience and a championship ring. Another difference between the two is that Young not only dictates her opponents' game plans, but she gets her teammates involved.

The Wildcats double-teamed and once even tripled-team Young to no avail. The national player of the year candidate would either pass to a wide-open teammate or simply just shoot over the defenders.

"She's (Young) just amazing," K-State coach Deb Patterson said. "She really brought it, and was virtually impossible to stop."

Young played all but one minute and finished with 33 points and 13 rebounds.

She needs just 31 points to pass Kendra Wecker's all-time Big 12 scoring record. She recently became the league's all-time rebounder and career double-double leader.

Young scored nearly half of her buckets from the free-throw line hitting 13 of 14. Her lone miss came with 7.5 left in the game.

Free throws dominated the entire contest. Baylor (21-5, 11-4) attempted 41 and made 80-percent of them. The Wildcats were on the other end of the free throw shooting spectrum. In the first half they hit a miserable 46-percent from the line and improved to a whopping 60-percent for the game on 28 attempts.

Patterson picked up her first technical foul in three years during the first half on a questionable traveling call and was still upset about the officiating after the game.

"I said, ‘Call the travel', but I had a few other words a few possessions before that," Patterson said.

"41. Is that a record in our league? We're probably a part of the record, but probably not on the upper-end of foul shots attempted."

Take away the final 12 attempts by the Bears, when K-State was intentionally fouling and the calls were just about even.

The Wildcats struggled to hit shots midway through the second half going seven and a half minutes between field goals. Young and company capitalized and built a 12-point lead.

Kansas State charged back trailing by nine with 1:21 remaining. They scored three points on three consecutive plays to cut the lead to four with 34 seconds left.

"We've been in that position a lot this year," said Baylor coach Kim Mulkey-Robertson, whose squad's four league losses have come on last second plays.

"We understand you're going to get people's best shots. That's respect for your program; that national championship title plastered on your back."

National champions are usually good at hitting the freebies. Baylor did just that making 11 of 12 and sealing the win.

Both Angela Tisdale and Abiola Wabara recorded 13 points.

Twiggy McIntyre led Kansas State with 20 points. Coggins added ten.

The Wildcats play their final game of regular season next Thursday against Kansas in Allen Fieldhouse.

The last week has been pretty challenging for this young team and things certainly won't get any easier playing at "The Phog," but don't try to tell them that.

"I'm not sure there's really any intimidation since it's Bramlage East," K-State senior Jessica McFarland said.

"We have nothing but the utmost respect for this KU team," McIntyre quickly interjected. "We're not going to take them lightly at all. I just hope they remember that we did win the first game."


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