Big 20 Minutes Propels K-State to Season-Opening Win

MANHATTAN, Kansas – Kansas State held a one-point lead over visiting Omaha after the first quarter on Friday night, but the Wildcats outscored the Mavericks 41-15 over the next 20 minutes to capture the 10th straight season-opening win for K-State with a 73-48 decision in Bramlage Coliseum.

Kansas State (1-0) featured five players in double figures led by sophomore guard Christianna Carr with 15 points and five rebounds. Senior forward and All-America candidate Peyton Williams recorded the 22nd double-double of her career with 14 points and a career-high 19 rebounds.

Williams is the first Wildcat to grab 19 or more rebounds in a game since Shalee Lehning tied the school record with 20 rebounds against Louisiana Tech on December 6, 2005. This was Williams’s third career game with 15 or more rebounds.

Joining Carr and Williams in double figures were junior Rachel Ranke with 11 points and a game-high four assists. Senior Jasauen Beard added 11 points and redshirt freshman center Ayoka Lee saw her first regular season game action and tallied 11 points, eight rebounds, three blocks and two steals.

Omaha (0-2) was led by Elena Pilakouta with 11 points and Kia Wilson with 10 points and nine rebounds.

The teams exchanged the lead five times in the opening quarter, as the Wildcats held a 13-12 edge after the first 10 minutes. The Mavericks pulled to within two on a pair of occasions to begin the second quarter, including at 20-18 with 5:46 to play.

The Wildcats then found their offensive legs and closed the half on a 15-4 run to build a 35-22 lead at the break. Cymone Goodrich started the run with a layup. Beard, Lee and Ranke followed with layups of their own to force an Omaha timeout with 2:34 to play and K-State in front 28-21.

The run continued after the timeout, as Ranke and Carr each finished a three-point play to increase the advantage to 34-21. K-State would finish the second quarter shooting 47.1 percent (8-of-17) from the field and held the Mavericks to a 25.0 percent effort (4-of-16).

K-State continued its offensive success into the third quarter, as the Wildcats used a 10-1 run to build a 20-point lead, 45-25, with 4:56 remaining. Lee tallied six of the 10 points during the run.

The Wildcats would build the lead to 27 entering the fourth quarter, 54-27. K-State would increase its lead to 36, 73-37, following an Emma Chapman jumper with 2:18 remaining.

For the night, K-State shot 40.9 percent (27-of-66) from the field and held Omaha to a 29.0 percent effort (18-of-62). The Wildcats outrebounded the Mavericks, 50-43. This marked the first 50-rebound game for K-State since November 18, 2018, against Kansas City.

Kansas State will continue its four-game home stand to open the 2019-20 season on Monday night at 6:30 p.m., against UIC. For tickets, call (800) 221-CATS or visit kstatesports.com/tickets.

Monday night’s game will be broadcast on Big 12 Now on ESPN+, on the K-State Sports Network and for free at kstatesports.com.

WHAT THEY SAID
JEFF MITTIE, HEAD COACH

Opening statement…
“Well, I thought it was a decent performance by us. I think early we were doing some decent things but the free throw line was keeping us away from any kind of rhythm and any kind of runs. We just couldn’t convert there but we were certainly getting to the free throw line. In the second quarter, I thought the transition game really got us going, we were really struggling. We had some players in foul trouble, that was kind of a constant all night. But, all in all, not too bad. I thought our defense, when it was good it was really good, when it wasn’t good it was because we were fouling and had too many individual fouls in that stretch.”

On finishing the second quarter strong…
“I thought Rachel (Ranke) and Chrissy (Carr), both from the wing perspective, really attacked well. Rachel had the two along the baseline, Chrissy had the one right in the middle of the floor, right down from the left side, really drove it strong in that stretch. I just thought we had a much better aggressive attack. I thought the point guards were doing an excellent job of advancing the ball at the time. I thought (Savannah) Simmons had a decent stretch there.”

On Peyton Williams being back…
“Well I think the importance of having her, just for her to get her legs under her from a basketball perspective and the pace of play and playing through contact. That’s the one thing I thought she struggled with early in this game of playing through contact. And then as the game progressed you could see that, as Yoki (Lee) said, she’s smart and figures things out and you saw her play much more decisive in the second half, just saw her do better things. But we need to maximize those opportunities when we do get her on the floor with us.”

On the shooting improving from the first to second quarter…
“Well I thought transition got us that. I thought Yoki (Lee) in the first half, the physical play was getting her shoved off the block. I thought Ashley (Ray) was shoved off the block. Our centers really were not handling it well. I thought Yoki made a nice adjustment in the second half, was much stronger scoring over. I thought she had better post position. I thought those things were better. But in the second quarter in particular, that was just, I think, getting in transition. We got layups in that stretch, we had good patience in that stretch. The thing that we’ve tried to do better with attacking is just, Chrissy (Carr) and Rachel (Ranke) in particular, being strong at the finish. They’ve had occasionally rushed that play. They were much, much better tonight. We’ve got a long ways to go, I don’t like our shooting percentages right now. I don’t like this assists number. Our guards have got to be able to pass the ball more effectively, we only have 8 assists on 27 field goals. These are areas that we must, if we’re going to be a good offensive team, then these are areas we’ve really got to improve on.”

On how the team felt the first couple of minutes…
“I thought we had some nerves. I think that the exhibition games are kind of the dress rehearsal but even the first game, even for me as a coach you’re like, ‘This is for real.’ And the excitement that goes into that and I think that probably contributed to some of our free throw stuff early, we were just a little too excited. This to me was a solid performance. It’s one I think we can build off of. There’s going to be plenty on film to look at, areas where we can do a lot better. I thought our discipline from three was a step forward, we didn’t shoot many three’s tonight. We talked about having great discipline there. Last year against this same Omaha team, we were down 13 with seven minutes to go in the third and we were 1/15 from three. They were going to allow us to shoot the three but we needed to show great discipline and that was probably the most pleasing thing of tonight was that we got to the free throw line and we showed good discipline from three.”

On the defense…
“Well I thought all night our pressure was pretty good. I thought our biggest issues defensively are fouling. I think our awareness is not bad, I think we’ve grown in that area individually. I thought the bench fouled too much tonight, Yoki had a couple fouls that were 94 feet away from the basket that we’re going to continue to talk to her about. She’s got to be smarter there, she’s got to have better discipline. But I think our defense has come along,  I think it’s right where it needs to be. Clean up some fouling and I think this team can be a pretty good defensive team.”

AYOKA LEE, REDSHIRT FRESHMAN CENTER
On her blocks tonight…
“I think what we focus on is how we can help and recover on defense, and I think with those that I had to help. What also comes with that is being smart, and knowing when I can and cannot block it. More importantly though it is about being smart.”

On what she has learned from Senior Forward Peyton Williams
“I learned so much from Peyton (Williams). I think that Peyton has such a high basketball IQ, and the ability to really think through her moves and to be very deliberate is what I have learned most from her.”

CHRISTIANNA CARR, SOPHOMORE GUARD
On her shooting…
“I have definitely been working with coach Mittie on getting to the rim before I start off shooting a three, I know I didn’t do that tonight. I got my first three and it went downhill from there, but I think I could have done better finishing at the rim, finishing some easier lay-ups, and establishing myself inside. Then, noticing when things are going to the rim, so I can throw it down to Ayoka (Lee), she finishes it everytime. There is definitely room for improvement, but it just takes some work.”

On playing against former teammate Kia Wilson…
“It was awesome to see how she has developed as a player. One thing that Kia (Wilson) has always brought to the floor is energy, and offensive rebounds. It was nice to be able to step on the floor with her and see her again and see she is doing well in college. I heard that she played great the other night so I was excited to have her back in Manhattan and play against her.”

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Source: Kansas State Sports