SE: Stellar Careers, Standout K-State WBB Season End in Second Round Loss to Stanford

The game wasn’t close but as long as there was time on the clock, Kindred Wesemann wasn’t done. 

If she wasn’t wearing long sleeves and padded compression tights, her skin cells would be scattered across the court — from diving, taking charges or slipping from vigorous cuts to get open. 

Simply put, K-State’s senior guard exerted every ounce of energy she possessed in her final game, a 69-48 loss to Stanford in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in Bramlage Coliseum on Monday night.  

When her time came to check out of the game with 1:17 left on the clock and her team trailing by 19, she wanted nothing to do with the traditional farewell trip down the bench. 

“I wanted to stop hugging people because it made me cry, and I also wanted to just finish watching the game and cheer on my teammates for the last minute. Nobody cares about this team, I don’t think, more than I do. I don’t care what people say, I care about them more,” Wesemann said, cracking a smile. “They’re my girls and I wouldn’t have wanted to finish it out with anybody else.”

Wesemann finished with a team-high 11 points and five assists. Like she had her entire career, Wesemann responded to a tough situation — an 18-point halftime deficit — in her second-nature way: more effort and energy. 

For Wesemann to even get on the court, K-State head coach Jeff Mittie said, was a testament to a toughness held throughout the team. 

“Most players in the country wouldn’t have played today or the other day. That elbow of hers will probably require surgery. She’s lived every moment in that training room just to get to today. She’s not the only one,” Mittie said. “It’s the most banged-up team coming into the tournament. There are no excuses, but I am so proud of that group for doing everything they could just to get to this weekend.”

“We had a couple of girls that have literally done everything possible, been in the training room with Becca (Fitzgerald), doing extra stuff with AJ (Kloss) to be able to compete today,” K-State junior Shaelyn Martin added, referring to the team’s athletic trainer and strength and conditioning coach, respectively. “Our toughness level is incredible. You can go down the line and every single person on this team would do that on this team. I think it just shows that even the physical obstacles we come across, we’re not going to let that phase us.”

Down more than 20 points in the second half, Wesemann still played with the same tireless tenacity. She still talked up teammates. She still screamed, pumped her fists and clapped emphatically to celebrate good plays. 

“In situations like that, you can’t let your whole team get down or negative,” Martin said. “There’s always something you can do, and I think she wanted to make sure that everyone knew she wasn’t giving up.” 

While Wesemann has been able to will her team to wins in the past, it wasn’t enough against a locked-in Stanford squad. 

Stanford, ranked No. 6 in the country, shot 45.6 percent from the field that included sinking 8-of-19 (42.1 percent) from beyond the arc. Even more, the Cardinal racked up 20 points off of 15 K-State turnovers and turned 12 offensive rebounds into 17 second-chance points. 

“I thought they played very well. McPhee got them off to a great start,” Mittie said, referencing Stanford junior guard Brittany McPhee’s game-high 21 points. “We obviously had our own issues. We did not control the ball very well. Turnovers were a problem for us. The glass was a real problem for us. Not much went right for us early in this game. A lot of that credit goes to Stanford. They played very well and I thought they executed things very well.”

While the night might have been spoiled by the loss, K-State’s season was still ripe with significant achievements. 

The Wildcats’ 23 wins were the most since the 2008-09 season. Their 11 Big 12 victories were the most for K-State since 2007-08.  

K-State’s NCAA Tournament berth was its second in as many years, marking the program’s first repeat trip since going in 2010-11 and 2011-12.  With a win against Drake in the first round, K-State picked up at least one victory in the NCAA Tournament in back-to-back seasons, a feat not achieved by the Wildcats since the 2007-08 and 2008-09 seasons.

“I think we put this program back to where it needs to be. We need to get past the second round next year,” said Wesemann, fifth in school history in career 3-point makes and 10th in assists. “Our coaches do a wonderful job of getting out and recruiting great players, and not only great players but great people that fit the mold for Kansas State and that really represent our family atmosphere that we have here. I’m really excited to come back and see them play next year.” 

Lewis, who battled foul trouble in the first half against Stanford, leaves K-State as the school’s all-time shot blocker, fifth in career rebounds (865) and 10th in career scoring (1,552). Wesemann also surpassed 1,000 points in her career, combining with Lewis to be the first two 1,000-point scorers to play together since Brittany Chambers and Jalana Childs in the 2011-12 season. Prior to Lewis and Wesemann, the last Wildcat tandem in the 1,000-point club to finish their careers together was Shalee Lehning and Marlies Gipson in 2008-09. 

“This just doesn’t feel real right now, but it has been a great journey for me, especially with my coaches,” Lewis said. “I’m really grateful for my experience.” 

The Wildcats lose three more seniors in Jessica Sheble, Kelly Thomson and Erica Young. 

Sheble finished seventh on the school’s all-time blocks list, despite a limited role her entire career. Kelly Thomson, who came back from two knee injuries in her career, was a steady leader on the bench for the Wildcats. Young missed this season with an injury but also helped turn the program around. 

“They really set the bar, and the hard work and dedication that’s needed to get this far,” Martin said of the seniors. “The program’s come so far from the beginning of Coach Mittie and his staff getting here. I think the five seniors were a big part of that. They set the standard for what’s acceptable for our program.” 

Each year, K-State’s seniors raised the bar for the program. From 11 wins and no postseason play as freshmen to 23 wins and hosting the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament as seniors, their impact has been easy to track. It will be harder to replace. 

“When you talk about the culture and you talk about replacing things, we can find a 3-point shooter, we can find a center. Can we find the commitment, the sacrifice, all those things? Well, that’s what we’re looking for,” Mittie said. “We’ll miss (the seniors), but I do feel strong that they have raised our group, they have raised the expectation in that locker room, they have raised the expectation of Kansas State women’s basketball again.”

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