No. 25 Wildcats Struggle in Huskerland

LINCOLN, Neb.-- It took the No. 25 Kansas State Wildcats about 20 minutes of bad basketball on the road against Nebraska to really grasp what life is like without starting forward Marlies Gipson on the court. Gipson, the Cats' best rebounder and second-leading scorer is out indefinitely after injuring her left knee in practice on Monday.

K-State was within three of erasing a 24-point deficit in the final 20 minutes Wednesday evening in the Bob Devaney Sports Center, but the Huskers made enough big plays at the end of the game to hold on and win 70-63.

The Wildcats, 14-3 overall and 2-2 in the Big 12, were completely out-of-sync in the first half shooting 31 percent from the field. Conversely, Nebraska couldn't have asked for a much better half. The Cornhuskers shot 62.1 from the floor with three players already in double-figures and led 45-21 at intermission.

"The first half was just an absolute disappointment, because no matter who's on or not on the court, it doesn't matter," K-State starter Claire Coggins said.

"There's no excuse for the way we played. Completely gutless is how we played."

Kansas State's "gut-check" at halftime nearly paid off as the Cats outscored Nebraska 31 to 10 and cut the lead to three with 5:13 remaining.

However, Nebraska responded out of the timeout with an 11-3 run, including three baskets by junior forward Danielle Page, to seal the victory.

"We stayed composed enough the last five minutes of the game to win," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said.

"K-State deserves all the credit in the world. They could've folded up tent and went home, but they fought back and played a really quality second half."

The Wildcats limited the Huskers, 15-3 and 3-1, to 33.3 percent shooting (8 of 24) from the field in the second half and showed a toughness that has often been lacking from K-State coach Deb Patterson's squads.

"I'm very proud that we continued to compete after getting in such a big hole," Patterson said.

"I was very pleased with the toughness, the competitive intensity and the composure that we brought in the second half."

Two-time first team All-Big 12 guard Kiera Hardy led all scorers with 22 points going seven of 15 from the field.

Sophomore forward Kelsey Griffin was perfect from the floor hitting all five of her shots for 15 points in addition to grabbing seven rebounds, and Page, who has recovered from a late-June ACL injury, recorded a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Huskers.

The Wildcats were led in scoring by Coggins and Kimberly Dietz with 14 a piece. Point guard Shalee Lehning led the Cats in rebounding with seven boards and 11 points. Forwards Shana Wheeler and Ashley Sweat both scored 10.

Gipson's absence was most notable in the rebounding category, where K-State was out-boarded 41-23.

Kansas State's two-game road tilt continues in Waco, Texas against Kim Mulkey-Robertson's 13th ranked Baylor Bears on Saturday.

"It would be a stretch to think we would have (Gipson) against Baylor," Patterson said.

"We'll continue to evaluate her day-to-day and see how her mobility is and take it from there.


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