Room to Grow, K-State Opens Exhibition Play with Win

"This is a very new team to me and a very new team to each other," said K-State head coach Jeff Mittie after the game. "Emporia did some really good stuff to us. It was really good for us to battle through. We struggled all night offensively just making easy plays. We had some easy plays we just didn't make, but we'll take it. We're going to take a look at the film and just get better tomorrow."
The Wildcats were led on the court by sophomore forward Bre Lewis who led the team in both scoring and rebounding. 
Lewis, a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, enters this season after a successful freshman campaign where she played in 29 games with 24 starts and averaged 5.7 points and 4.6 rebounds per game. Her 44 blocks during the 2013-14 season (1.5 per game) were the most among Big 12 freshman last year.
"In the beginning I was a little bit frustrated, so I tried to clear my head and play through the frustration," explained Lewis on her performance last night. "Then in the end I started playing better. I felt like I progressed as the minutes went on."
Despite going 2-of-8 from the field and recording five points in the first half, Lewis continued strong and finished the game 5-of-12 from the field, recording 14 total points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Also helping the team to the win was freshman guard Shaelyn Martin. Martin earned her first career start in the exhibition opener and led the team in assists with three. 
"I thought she earned it," Mittie responded when asked his reasoning on putting Martin in the starting lineup. "She comes in every day and works hard. She's performed well in our scrimmages. She's a mature young lady and I saw some really good things from her tonight."
Growing up in Salina, Kansas, Martin is no stranger to K-State women's basketball. As a matter of fact, she had season tickets growing up and she and her family made it to Bramlage to watch the women's team in action any chance they got. So while playing basketball on a new stage and at a new level was different, it wasn't too difficult to adjust to.
"I've been to almost all the K-State games, so I'm used to being on the other end of that environment," explained Martin. "But when you get in the game, you block out everything. It's just you and your teammates on the court."
At Salina Central High School, Martin was a four-time AVCTL First Team selection and the 2014 AVCTL Co-Player of the Year. She garnered Class 5A All-State honors for three straight seasons and was the Class 5A Player of the Year her senior season. 
Perhaps the best girls' basketball player to walk the halls of Salina Central, Martin concluded her career ranked first in school history in seven categories - total rebounds, offensive rebounds, defensive rebounds, assists, steals, free throws made and 2-point field goals made.
"I felt really secure because I've created such a good bond with these teammates, so I didn't feel like I had any pressure whatsoever," said Martin on her first time playing in Bramlage Coliseum. "We know how to take care of each other, so (my teammates) led me on the court and got me through everything."
Along with her three assists, Martin opened her Wildcat career scoring seven points and grabbing five rebounds. 
Though K-State came away with the win, the game came down to the wire. However while the score was back and forth all night (the lead changed 22 times), in the game's final three minutes, the Wildcats pulled away. 
Perhaps the silver lining of a game filled with mistakes, Mittie caught a glimpse of his team's potential in those final minutes. 
When it mattered most, K-State made plays, hit free throws and worked together for the win. 
"It seemed we were freed and that we played with a greater sense of urgency at the end," said Mittie.  "Hopefully we can carry that over to tomorrow's practice and into the next game."
Next up for the Wildcats is the team's final exhibition matchup against Newman at 7 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10 in Bramlage Coliseum.
K-State women's basketball will host its 2014-15 season opener at 5:30 p.m., on Friday, Nov. 14 with a game against SIUE in Bramlage Coliseum. 
For this season's complete women's basketball schedule, click here.
For a complete recap, stats and quotes from last night's game, click here.
 

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