Wildcats end season with loss to Depaul

Manhattan - Cartier Martin and David Hoskins did all they could, but it wasn't enough as the Kansas State men's basketball team lost to Depaul 70-65 Monday night in Bramlage Coliseum in the second round of the NIT.

Martin scored 21 and Hoskins led all scorers with 24, but the Blue Demon trio of Sammy Mejia, Wilson Chandler and Draelon Burns outplayed the Wildcats' leading scorers.

Mejia and Chandler led the way with 18 points apiece, and Burns poured in 17 as they helped end K-State's season and the careers of seniors Martin, Lance Harris, Akeem Wright, Serge Afeli and Jermaine Maybank.

Mejia and Chandler combined to shoot 14-for-24 from the field, and they also added nine rebounds and five assists. Burns made only 4-of-12 shots, but he knocked down 7-of-8 free throw attempts while also finishing with nine rebounds in a team-high 38 minutes.

K-State (23-12, 10-6 Big 12 Conference) went into halftime down 38-30 after Depaul went on a 10-0 run early in the game, and the Wildcats were never able to get a lead because Depaul was lethal from the field, knocking down 11-of-15 second half shots.

The two teams exchanged baskets for the beginning of the second half, but K-State went on a 10-3 run that ended at the 11:37 mark, which cut the lead to 49-46.

Mejia and Chandler both knocked down outside shots, while Martin, Hoskins and Stewart scored as much as they could.

Stewart knocked down a trey at the 2:54 mark, which capped an 8-0 Wildcat run and cut the lead to 60-58. Burns hit a three on Depaul's next trip, and Martin had a offensive rebound dunk on K-State's next trip. The Wildcats were scoring baskets, but they were also giving up too many at the same time to the Blue Demons.

Martin hit a three from the left wing with 23 seconds left to play and that again cut the lead to two at 67-65. Burns made 1-of-2 foul shots after the Wildcats intentionally fouled him. He missed the second free throw, but Hoskins knocked the ball out of bounds on the rebound attempt with 20 seconds left to give the ball back to Depaul. Chandler hit his two free throws, and K-State failed to score on its next and final possession.

The Wildcats kept getting close but didn't have what it took to regain a lead like they did against Vermont in the opening round of the NIT.

"It's hard to beat people when you're down eight and they go 11-for-15 from the field," K-State coach Bob Huggins said. "We had chances. The reality is I'm proud of the guys. We were down 10 and could've quit. We didn't have a lot of things going our way if you know what I mean."

Huggins was referring to the numerous calls during the game that made the sell-out crowd of 13,340 fans packed in Bramlage a little angry. The calls all night could have gone either way, but Wildcat fans gave the referees a hard time for most of the game.

The intensive atmosphere created by K-State fans was nothing new to the Blue Demons (20-13, 9-7 Big East Conference), as they, being from the Big East, have traveled to such places as Northwestern, Georgetown, West Virginia and Syracuse, and have went on the road and defeated teams like Villanova and Notre Dame. This Depaul team also knocked off Kansas Dec. 2.

"The atmosphere was a great experience for the team," Mejia said. "Some teams get intimidated by a big crowd but we actually get excited about it. Coming into the game we knew that this place was going to be jumping and we were excited about it, and we just wanted to make the best of it."

Martin went 8-of-14 from the field, but made only 3-of-9 attempts from the three-point line. He had seven rebounds, three assists and two steals in his final collegiate game. Hoskins knocked down 10-of-18 shots, had three rebounds and played the entire game.

"Those guys made some good shots," Martin said. "I gotta give a lot of credit to Depaul, they're a good team. They played well tonight."

Junior Clent Stewart was the only other Wildcat to score more than two points, as he had 15. Wright had only two points on 0-of-4 shooting, but he did contribute by grabbing seven rebounds and dishing out a career-high nine assists in his final game.

"We thought that we were going to be able to come out on top, especially playing at home," Stewart said. "The fans came out and supported us, sold it out. It's hard going out the way we did. We didn't play our best game and they took advantage of that. They made shots down the stretch and we just couldn't pull it out."

Lance Harris was a non-factor, going 0-for-3 from the field (all from 3-point land) in his final game as a Wildcat. He was held scoreless for just the third time this season, and he never played in the second half. Maybank had two points and two rebounds and Afeli never entered the game.

Now the Wildcats head into the offseason and will await the anticipated addition of the No. 1 recruiting class in the nation, and those four players (Michael Beasley, Jacob Pullen, Dominique Sutton and Fred Brown) will join the team once they finish up their senior year of high school with Bill Walker also rejoining the team after an injury that cut his season short after only six games.

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