Wildcats Outlast, Outhustle Rams

LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Kansas State used a second half surge highlighted by a number of hustle plays to outlast VCU, 73-67, on Sunday afternoon in the Duel in the Desert at Cox Pavilion. The contest was a back and forth affair with 10 ties and 10 lead changes.

Kansas State (5-6) saw four players reach double figures, as freshman Brittany Chambers led the Wildcats with 17 points, including four key free throws in the final five minutes. This was the fourth time this season that Chambers has led the Cats in scoring and the eighth time she has reached double figures in just 11 career games.

Senior forward Ashley Sweat finished with 16 points, including four free throws in the final five minutes. Sweat hauled in seven rebounds to move her career total to 22nd in school history with 517 for her career. Sweat has now scored in 110 straight games, the longest active streak in the Big 12, and had reached double figures in nine of 11 games this season and 81 career games.

Freshman guard Taelor Karr recorded 13 points, while senior guard Kari Kincaid registered 10 points, six assists and five rebounds. Kincaid reached double figures for the first time in five games.
 
The Wildcats were able to open a 10-point advantage, 24-14, in the first half on a pair of three-point field goals by Karr. A deep three-pointer from Kincaid gave K-State a 27-19 edge, but VCU chipped away at the K-State lead and captured a 30-29 lead with 1:39 to play in the opening stanza.

A pair of Kincaid free throws with 58 seconds to play gave K-State a 31-30 lead, but the Rams closed out the half with a Kita Waller three-point field goal from the top of the key before the halftime buzzer.

K-State registered a .348 field goal percentage in the first half and closed out the half without a field goal in the final 5:54, scoring its final five points at the foul line. Chambers and Karr led the Wildcats in the first half with six points apiece.

VCU boosted its lead to five with a three-point field goal by La'Tavia Rorie in the opening seconds of the second stanza. The Wildcats evened the game for the sixth time at 36, as Sweat and Kincaid registered a jumper and a 3-point field goal, respectively.

The Rams shook free of the Wildcats with an 11-0 run over a two minute span to take a 54-46 lead with 11:25 to play, punctuated by a three-pointer by Ebony Patterson.

From this point on, K-State outscored VCU 27-13 as the run was started by a Sweat three-pointer at the 11-minute mark.

With 8:13 to play, K-State got the shot in the arm it needed to complete the comeback, as sophomore forward Branshea Brown used an aggressive drive from the top of the key. Brown finished at the rim with an aggressive layup and was fouled by a VCU defender, which resulted in a 3-point play for Brown and brought the score to 56-54. Brown finished with six points and six rebounds off the Wildcat bench, including a pair of offensive rebounds in the second half.

The comeback was completed for the Wildcats, as Chambers drove down the left side of the lane to tie the score for the ninth time at 56 with 6:23 to play.

One of K-State's final hustle plays of the game came with 4:03 to play. After Sweat missed a short jump shot from the left short corner, a scrum for the rebound ensued with Kincaid coming free with the ball. Kincaid tossed the ball over her head to an open Shalin Spani for a three-point field goal to give K-State a 61-58 lead. This was a lead K-State would not relinquish, as Sweat, Chambers and Kincaid were 10-of-10 from the line in the final five minutes.

For the game, K-State shot .435 from the field, including .522 in the second half. The Wildcats were also able to convert from the free throw line, making a season-high percentage of .920 (23-of-25).

Kansas State will conclude action at the Duel in the Desert on Monday afternoon. The Wildcats will face UTSA at 4:30 p.m. (CT). The action can be found live on the K-State Sports Network, with pregame beginning at 4 p.m.