No. 10 Lady Raiders fall to No. 20 KSU, 55-53

Kansas State University's Wildcats threw themselves, in their coach's words, "a National Championship caliber celebration" after stunning 10th-ranked Texas Tech at home Saturday, 55-53. "It was a very emotional victory for us, and for our senior class," KSU coach Deb Patterson said after the game. "Our senior class, having never come in and had a win here, got very caught up in a celebration; I think it was, probably, a National Championship caliber celebration."

The Wildcats earned their win by stifling Lady Raider perimeter shooting, according to Patterson. "(Chesley) Dabbs and (Alesha) Robertson have been such proficient scorers, we really had a preoccupation to those two; it was really just a straight-up assignment for (Megan) Mahoney, (Claire) Coggins, (Chelsea) Domenico and (Laurie) Koehn, and they were able to get the job done for us."

En route to the win Kendra Wecker picked up 19 points – and raised her career mark to 2,010. Wecker added eight rebounds, an assist and four blocks in 38 minutes of play as well as one steal.

ESPN correspondent and Kansas City Star sportswriter Michelle Voepel said the KSU women had not beaten a top-10 opponent in three years; she made a point of questioning Texas Tech head coach Marsha Sharp about the celebration after the game. "Do you think it's because you never lose here?"

Sharp answered, "You'll have to ask them that."

"I think it was a great basketball game," Sharp said, "and two great teams spent 40 minutes going at each other. I think we just didn't make as many plays as we wanted. We got some good shots, and we got shots we wanted, but we didn't get our shots to fall. That's what it came down to.

"I think we'll rebound and play well against Missouri here, and we're looking forward to getting back on the court," she said. "We knew the perimeter defenses would be tight, and we wanted our post players to give us some production, and it didn't happen."

Kansas State's defense held Dabbs to two points in the second half and six for the game; Robertson had 10 points and eight rebounds, including two under KSU's bucket in the second half that kept the Lady Raiders in the ball game by denying the Wildcats second – or third – opportunities to score. Scoring off those second and third opportunities kept KSU in the game all day.

Lady Raider charity shooters completed four of five attempts in the first half and six of eight in the second half successfully for 76.9 percent accuracy over the game, slightly higher than the team's recent .693 mark. Kansas State hit six of its nine free throws in the game. Wildcat players committed 14 fouls, while Tech earned 10 personals in the contest. Tech gave away seven turnovers; Kansas State turned the ball over six times.

In a display of physical defense, however, Kansas State outlasted, outhustled, and outshot Texas Tech. The Lady Raiders collected 41 rebounds, 29 of them defensive, and blocked four shots. Wildcat rebounders brought down 38 boards, 27 defensive; but KSU banditry took the ball from Tech four times and the ‘Cats blocked seven shots, while the Lady Raiders had just four blocks and two steals.

Senior center Cisti Greenwalt, who had 10 rebounds and nine points, had two assists and two blocks in the game; but she went 3-of-10 from the floor and missed one of her four free throws.

"Cisti really needed to give us some point production today," Sharp said after the game. Greenwalt's per-game average, before Saturday's loss, was 13.3 points. Greenwalt played 31 minutes; freshmen Darrice Griffin, who played for 21 minutes while spelling Greenwalt and Davis, and Erin Myrick, who played four minutes, combined for four boards and five points.

Tawanna Flowers, Tech's redshirt freshman forward, played three minutes to allow Robertson a rest in the first half; Brooke Baughman allowed Grant one minute's rest.

The Lady Raiders' 36.2% field goal accuracy was their lowest in Big 12 play; they attempted only four shots from beyond the arc; Grant and Robertson hit one apiece, Dabbs missed one, and Robertson missed one. Kansas State hit three of six treys in the first half and two of seven in the second; the Wildcats finished the game with a 24-of-50 accuracy from the floor.

"I think Kendra Wecker is a great player," Sharp said of the Kansas State Star whose 15-foot jumper with 7.1 seconds to go put the Wildcats ahead. "We tried to put some quickness against her early, and then in the second half we changed defenses to try to put some more size against her."

Dabbs' defense in the first half held Wecker to six points; by then, senior classmates Koehn had as many, and Mahoney had more, points.

KSU had recovered from Tech leads all day – twice in the first half, and nine times in the second half. Their biggest margin was four points, while the Lady Raiders' biggest lead was seven.

"I don't think I did as well as I should have," Davis said afterward, acknowledging her assignment to stop Wecker in the second half. "I didn't make the plays I should have made at the end of the game."

"Some of our players that we count on to make buckets for us weren't getting their shots to go in, particularly in Dabbs' case," Sharp said. She said the game plan had been to push the ball to the post and try to take advantage of mismatches in size inside. "Cisti was playing over a 6-1 post player today.

"I thought we had the game under control," she said of a late second-half stretch in which Tech saw its lead evaporate on missed shot after missed shot. "A lot of our trips today were one (attempt) and out. We just couldn't get through the picks a lot of times, and they would hit shots to bail them out every time we made a run."

The Lady Raiders missed eight shots in the last six minutes of the game; Dabbs had given them a two-point lead, but at the 4:28 mark she was called for a foul and Mahoney sank both free throws to knot the score at 49, and then give KSU a one-point advantage.

Griffin's rebound went for naught as Dabbs missed; Koehn sank a trey, but Robertson answered with a bucket to keep the Lady Raiders close. A foul on Greenwalt shifted momentum to Kansas State; Wecker's bucket before, and free throw after, the media timeout put the Wildcats ahead to stay, although Grant's put-back shot after rebounding her own misfire with 33 seconds to go brought Tech even a last time.

The teams traded 30-second timeouts, personal fouls, and inbounds passes before Wecker's jumper set up Tech's last opportunity of the game.

Grant's last-second shot at the end of the game rimmed out, denying the Lady Raiders an opportunity to extend the game into overtime.

"I got a good look at the basket," she said after the game. "It rimmed out on me." Grant said the team needed to focus on the next contest. "We do have to forget about this game now that it's over and move on to face Missouri."

Tech's next game is Wednesday night in the United Spirit Arena at 7 p.m. against the University of Missouri.

The Lady Raiders are now 14-3 for the season, 5-1 in Big 12 play. Instead of having sole possession of the conference lead, as they had going into the game Saturday, they are tied with Kansas State and Baylor for second place. Iowa State beat Nebraska to remain undefeated, and Baylor lost to Texas in conference action Saturday.

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