The Kansas State women’s basketball team hasn’t lost to Kansas since Jeff Mittie became coach three years ago, and that is unlikely to change so long as the Wildcats continue to play the way they did during a 73-60 victory over the Jayhawks on Wednesday at Bramlage Coliseum.
No. 25 K-State left no doubt in this rendition of the Sunflower Showdown.
The outcome was all but decided in the opening minutes, with K-State scoring the game’s first 16 points, and if Kansas had any hope for a comeback it was dashed quickly into the third quarter with another dominant run.
“Two big runs by us made the difference,” Mittie said. “There were stretches I thought we played great and stretches I thought we played awful. I think you all saw the same thing I did. I would love to bottle up the great, but what I would really like is for us to play with some consistency.”
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K-State (13-4, 3-2 Big 12) flexed its muscles and showed why it has beaten Kansas (6-10, 0-5) six straight times under Mittie and won 28 of the last 34 in the series.
“That’s been a fun thing to be a part of,” Mittie said. “It didn’t take me long to recognize how important it is in every sport. At some schools (beating your in-state rival) it’s maybe just football or men’s basketball, but our fans really rally to this game and really have an appreciation for this game.”
Senior center Breanna Lewis led a balanced attack by scoring 15 points. Senior guard Kindred Wesemann added 12 and Karyla Middlebrook had 11.
They were too much for the Jayhawks and they were at their best early, getting off to a sensational start and leading 16-0 midway through the first half. The Wildcats entered the game as obvious favorites and proved their superiority immediately.
Peyton Williams got the K-State going with a jumper, then Breanna Lewis made a leaning mid-range shot and Shaelyn Martin drained a three. It was a run of beauty that fired up the arena. Players erupted with cheers as they extended the lead on a Lewis put back, followed by a three from Kaylee Page and a traditional three-point play by Lewis.
K-State was in complete control at the first timeout.
“Last time playing KU at home,” Lewis said. “We had to take advantage.”
The Jayhawks fought back to make it 22-9 at the end of the first quarter and made things competitive in the second quarter behind the outside shooting of Jessica Washington, who finished with 31 points, and Kylee Kopatich, who had 11.
At halftime, K-State led 33-26 but it was clear the home team wanted more.
The Wildcats proved as much by scoring the first 12 points of the third quarter and surging ahead 57-36 by the start of the fourth quarter.
The final score appeared destined for a blowout, but Washington cut into K-State’s lead with a flurry of impressive plays. She made 10 of 14 shots, including seven three-pointers.
“She made baskets,” KU coach Brandon Schneider said. “She was aggressive. I think I remember one bad shot in the corner. Other than that I didn’t think she took bad shots. She made open looks. We did a good job finding her once she started making some baskets.”
Kansas will try to bounce back in its next game against Baylor on Sunday.
K-State will try to stay above .500 in Big 12 play in its next game at Oklahoma State on Saturday and hope it plays as well as it did early on against Kansas.
“Whenever you start off 16-0 that’s what you want,” Wesemann said. “You would like to keep building off that lead. There were spots in the game that definitely lived up to what I was wanting it to be, but there were also times we weren’t as good as we wanted to be. We will work to build off that.”
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett