CATS SQUEAK OUT A WIN

MANHATTAN, Kan.--What's the difference between snapping an 11-game losing streak to your in-state rivals and remaining winless in your conference?

The answer is about five free throws.

The season-high crowd of 6,597 fans at Bramlage Coliseum wiped the perspiration from their brows after Kansas State narrowly avoided the upset to the University of Kansas 59-55 Wednesday night.

The Wildcats entered the contest having dropped two consecutive games on the road against Nebraska and Baylor, but were still considered heavy favorites on their home floor against the Jayhawks, who are now 6-13 overall and 0-6 in the Big 12.

However, the Cats' 12th Sunflower Showdown victory was anything but easy and as K-State coach Deb Patterson put it, the game was statistically and visually pretty ugly.

"Certainly there wasn't any phase of the game where I felt we were as effective or efficient or as good as we would hope to be in Big 12 basketball," Patterson said. "So credit Kansas for taking us out of our game and for being very aggressive."

Kansas dominated the boards out-rebounding K-State 54-31. And this coming from the worst team in the league in rebounding margin, although to the Cats' defense, forward Marlies Gipson is still out with a knee injury.

In most games a 23 rebound advantage will garner a win, but the Jayhawks were more accurate shooting themselves in the foot than they were from the free throw line hitting just 38.9 percent.

"Our most glaring statistic is our inability to knockdown the free throw," Kansas coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "But what is magnified is you go seven for 18 here and you still have a chance to win."

In fact, the Jayhawks could've sent the game into overtime had freshman Danielle McCray hit a five-footer from the baseline with 1.5 seconds left. K-State point guard Shalee Lehning came down with her sixth rebound and was fouled. She made both free throws to put the game away.

Lehning led the Cats, 15-4 and 3-3, with 17 points on four-of-seven from the field and nine-of-11 from the line.

The Wildcats tried to set the tone early with an 8-0 run, but KU answered with a 7-0 run of its own and trailed 36-29 at halftime. In the second half there were five ties and six lead changes.

"I was talking to Claire (Coggins) after the game, and she was saying it's always been a hard-fought game," said forward Ashley Sweat, who was playing in her first Showdown. "But you chalk it up as a win, and no matter how ugly it got, we're going to take it."

Kansas limited K-State to 25 percent shooting (six of 24) from the field in the second half. Senior Shaquina Mosley led the Hawks with 17 points and seven boards. McCray and fellow freshman Kelly Kohn added 13 a piece.

Kimberly Dietz scored 14 points and Coggins had 12 for the Wildcats.

Kansas State will hit the road again as they face Iowa State, 15-5 and 3-4, in Ames on Saturday. Last season the Cats and Cyclones split their two-game series each winning on the road.


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