Wildcats Host Illinois in WNIT Third Round

GAME - 32
Kansas State (17-14)  vs. Illinois (19-11)
Thursday, March 22, 2007  7 p.m.
Bramlage Coliseum, Manhattan, Kan.

Radio: K-State Sports Network (Talent: Brian Smoller - Play-by-Play; Kristin Waller - Analyst)
Television: None
Internet: Live Stats on k-statesports.com

GAME PREVIEW: Kansas State women’s basketball team will host Illinois in the Postseason Women’s National Invitation Tournament (WNIT) Third Round on Thursday, March 22 at 7 p.m. in Bramlage Coliseum.  After receiving a bye in the opening round the Wildcats defeated Southern Illinois, 72-46, at Bramlage Coliseum on Saturday, March 17 while the Fighting Illini knocked off Utah, 59-48, on Monday, March 19 in Champaign, Ill. in the second round.  The winner will advance to the quarterfinals and will face the winner of Auburn at Virginia Tech.

THE SERIES: Kansas State and Illinois have faced once before on Jan. 8, 1981.  The Wildcats defeated the Fighting Illini, 67-52, on a neutral site in Wichita, Kan.  This will be the first trip to Manhattan for Illinois.

THE FIGHTIN ILLINI:   Under 12th year head coach Theresa Grentz the Fighting Illini posted an 8-8 record and finished fourth in the Big Ten Conference.  Illinois fell to Penn State (61-49) in the first round of the conference tournament and earned an automatic birth into the WNIT.  Sophomore Lori Bjork, a Second Team All-Big Ten selection, leads the team in scoring (14.4) and three-point field goals (82).  Freshman Jenna Smith is also averaging in double figures with 11.0 point per game and the team leader in rebounds (7.7 rpg).  She earned All-Big Ten Honorable Mention and selected to the All-Freshman Team.  Freshman Lacey Simpson has a team best 100 assists, 70 steals and 39 blocks while averaging 7.2 points and 6.8 rebounds per game.

DEFENDING CHAMPS: Kansas State closed out the 2005-06 season as 2006 Postseason WNIT Champions, to mark  its first postseason championship title in school history.  The Wildcats defeated Marquette, 77-65, in front of a sellout crowd of 13,340 at Bramlage Coliseum in the championship game.  Claire Coggins was named Tournament MVP while Kimberly Dietz was selected to the All-Tournament team.

K-STATE’S WNIT HISTORY: It’s the second straight and  third overall trip to the Postseason WNIT for the Wildcats.  K-State owns a 7-1 record including six straight wins in WNIT contests.  After receiving a bye in the opening round this season, the Wildcats defeated Southern Illinois, 72-46, in the second round.
K-State played in its first WNIT in 1999 going 1-1.  The Wildcats knocked off Creighton (71-60) in the first round before falling to Arkansas State (65-78) in round two.  Last season the Wildcats won all five games on their way to capturing first postseason championship title in school history.  After cruising to a 20-point victory over Idaho State (88-68) in the second round, K-State defeated Fresno State (64-61) in the third round before knocking off Big 12 foe, Nebraska (77-63) in the quarterfinals.  The Wildcats won an overtime thriller against Western Kentucky, 57-56, in the semifinals and defeated Marquette, 77-65, in front of a sellout crowd of 13,340 at Bramlage Coliseum in the championship game.
All seven K-State wins in the WNIT came at home in Bramlage Coliseum while the only loss was at Arkansas State in Jonesboro, Ark.

A LOOK AT THE SEASON: The Wildcats opened the 2006-07 season with a home win against UW-Green Bay and cruised through the non-conference schedule posting a 12-1 record.  The one loss came against Wisconsin at UNLV Lady Rebel Shootout in Las Vegas.  K-State fell at Oklahoma in the Big 12 opener but bounced back to knock off Texas A&M and Missouri at home and were ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll on Jan. 15.  Then came the knee injury to Marlies Gipson, who is averaging 12.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.4 blocks per game.  The Wildcats struggled with out their star forward in the line up as they dropped 11 of the final 13 games.  K-State entered the Big 12 tournament as the 12th seed with a 16-13 overall record and 4-12 in the Big 12 and faced the number-five seed, Iowa State in first round.  With the game tied at 33 at 10:26 mark in the second half, Iowa State put together a 24-12 run down the stretch for the win.

CLOSE CALLS: 21 (9-12, .429) of K-State’s 31 games this season were decided by 12 points or less.  Nine of those 21 contests (5-4, .556) were decided by five or fewer points.

BRAMLAGE TOUGH ON NON-CONFERENCE FOES: During Deb Patterson era (1996-present) the Wildcats have posted 66-6 (.917) record against nonconference opponents in Bramlage Coliseum. K-State posted 10-1 record last season and has a perfect 8-0 record this season.

NO TIME TO BE A FRESHMAN: With the injury to Marlies Gipson, head coach Deb Patterson needed her freshman Ashley Sweat to step up.  The rookie forward has done just that, averaging 12.1 points and 5.7 rebounds per game in the 15 games since Gipson’s injury.  In the last eight games, Sweat is averaging 15.6 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 47.1 percent from the floor, 56.3 percent from the three-point range.

SWEAT AMONG THE TOP ROOKIES IN BIG 12: Ashley Sweat has been a key contributor to the Wildcats this season and is ranked among the top rookies in the Big 12 Conference.  She is in the top-6 in six of the eight categories among the Big 12 freshmen.

LEHNING THE LEADER: Shalee Lehning leads the Wildcats in five statistical categories.  At just 5-9, she has cleared a team-best 213 rebounds including 72 offensive boards and is averaging 6.9 rebounds per game.  She also leads the team in assists (156) and field goal percentage (.515).  Lehning is only player in the conference to be ranked in the top-15 in rebounding, assists, steals (48), assists/turnover ratio (1.66), defensive rebounds (141) and minutes played (33.0).

RAINING 3’S ON THE ROAD: In six of the final eight road games of the regular season, K-State totaled at least eight three-pointer in a game.  The Wildcats have hit four or more three’s in all 11 road games this season.  The Wildcats’ season-high 13 also came away from Bramlage Coliseum at a neutral site against Rice at FIU Sun & Fun Classic.  K-State has averaged 7.9 three’s per game on the road and neutral site and 4.5 at home.

STREAK ENDS: Marlies Gipson has played and started in 50 consecutive games before missing her first game of collegiate career on Wednesday, Jan. 17 at Nebraska with a knee injury.  She started all 34 games her freshman year and first 16 games this season before the injury.

PLAYING WITH THE LEAD: During K-State’s 14 non-conference games this season, the Wildcats have trailed for a grand total of 65:32 of a possible 565 minutes. K-State led from start to finish in four games this season against Creighton, Mississippi Valley State, Santa Clara and Southern Illinois.

CATS LIKE THE PAINT IN BRAMLAGE: The Wildcats have outscored their opponents, 568-398, in the paint in 16 home games at Bramlage Coliseum.  But on the road it’s a different story as K-State struggled to score inside and trail the opponents, 272-250.

WILDCATS VS. BIG TEN: K-State has played 10 of the 11 schools in the Big Ten Conference and owns a 20-18 (.526) record against them. The Wildcats have played Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue and Wisconsin. The last time K-State faced a Big Ten foe was on Nov. 24 this season when the Wildcats fell to Wisconsin, 56-53, at the UNLV Lady Rebel Shootout in Las Vegas, Nev.

WINNINGEST COACH: Deb Patterson became the all-time winningest women's basketball coach in K-State's history when the Wildcats defeated UMKC, 64-56, on Dec. 9 at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
Patterson passed Judy Akers who guided K-State to a 206-94 record during a 10-year period from 1968-1979.

1,000 POINT CLUB: Claire Coggins became the 32nd player in Kansas State women’s basketball history to top 1,000 career points as she scored 20 points in the Wildcats’ 48-45 victory over No. 17 Texas A&M on Jan. 6.  She now has 1,222 points.
Coggins has appeared in 121 games in her career while making 92 starts and averaged 10.1 points per game.  This season she is third on the team in scoring with 12.6 ppg.

TRIPLE THREAT: Claire Coggins and Kimberly Dietz both rank among K-State’s all-time top three-point shooters.  Both pushed their way into the top-10  in three-pointers made and attempts and have topped 55 triples in 2006-07.  Coggins is currently fourth all-time in three-point field goals made (185) and attempts (527) while Dietz is in seventh place in three’s made (147) and fifth in attempts (463).

STEALING THE SHOW: Claire Coggins has recorded 179 career steals and is seventh all time in K-State record book.  She needs 40 more steal to tie Brit Jacobson 98 for sixth.  Coggins leads the team with 59 this season.

DISHING OUT THE ROCK: With 345 career assists in less than two seasons, Shalee Lehning has already moved into K-State’s top 10 career assists list.  She is currently seventh all time and holds the single season assists record with 189 during her freshman year.  Lehning leads the team with 156 assists this season.

CLIMBING THE BLOCKS: Shana Wheeler is currently second in all time career blocks list with 105 while Marlies Gipson is fourth with 101.  Wheeler leads the team this season with 54 blocks while Gipson recorded 39 in the first 16 games before missing last 13 games with an injury.

A TALE OF TWO HALVES: After watching Nebraska shoot 62.1 percent from the floor and build a 24-point lead in the first half in Lincoln on Jan. 17, the Wildcats pieced together one of their best second halves this season.  K-State held the Cornhuskers to 33.3 percent shooting and outscored them 42-25.  The Wildcats started the second half with 19-2 run to get back into the game and cut the deficit to just three points with 6:10 to go in the game, but could not capitalize  on the momentum as they fell, 70-63.

TOP-25: After a hot start including a win over No. 17 Texas A&M, K-State has achieved its first national ranking in nearly two years.  The Wildcats were ranked No. 25 in the AP Poll on Jan. 15 with 74 points.  The last time Kansas State ranked in the top-25 was in 2004-05, when the Wildcats were No. 16 in the final AP Poll and No. 19 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll.  K-State received votes in both polls throughtout the season last year but never reached the top-25.

BALANCE SCORING: In 25 out of 31 games this season, three or more players have scored in double figures.  In nine games four players reached double digits, while five players scored in double figures in two games (Creighton and Nebraska).  K-State has six players averaging at least 7.4 points per game, and nine different players have scored 10 or more points in a game at least once.

SHARPSHOOTERS: K-State is filled with three-point shooters on the team and at any given point, any player can step behind the arc and make a basket.  So far this season, eight out of 10 players on the roster have connected on three-pointer. 

SWAT TEAM: The Wildcats have blocked 151 shots this season led by Shana Wheeler with 54.  At least one player has blocked three or more shots in 14 games, four or more in eight games and five or more in five games this season.  Marlies Gipson tied the school record and set the Bramlage Coliseum record by rejecting seven shots against Weber State on Dec. 15.  She also blocked five shots against Wyoming (11/17).  Wheeler blocked a career-high six shots against Wyoming (11/17) and Rice (12/29).

CAPITALIZING OPPONENTS MISTAKES: The Wildcats have forced 533 turnovers this season and turned them into 530 points.  K-State is outscoring foes by 140 points (530-390) of turnovers.

DEE-FENSE: The Wildcats have held opponents to 37.0 percent shooting this season.  K-State has allowed 59.4 points per game while posting 795 defensive rebounds, 151 blocks and 237 steals.  On Dec. 1st the Wildcats held Mississippi Valley State to a school record five field goals made and 8.6 percent (5-for-58) shooting.  K-State has held five opponents under 30 percent.

HALFTIME LEAD = “W”: K-State is 16-2 this season when ahead at the half.  The two losses came at Colorado on Jan. 31 and Iowa State on Feb. 24 at home.  The Wildcats fell 66-55 after leading 39-24 against Colorado and dropped a 64-61 decision against Iowa State after posting a five point lead (40-35) at the half.

HALF-COURT HEAVE: In the overtime win against Wyoming on Friday, Nov. 17, Claire Coggins hit a half-court shot at buzzer to send the game into overtime.  After Shana Wheeler tied the game at 52 with 13 seconds remaining in regulation,  the Cowgirls converted a three-pointer with 1.3 seconds on the clock to take a 55-52 lead.  Coggins took the inbound pass from Marlies Gipson at midcourt and swished the shot at the buzzer from 50 feet to tie the game at 55.

BLOCK PARTY: The Wildcats rejected 13 shots against Wyoming on Friday, Nov. 17, breaking the school record of 10 set on four different occasions, the last on March 19, 2005 against Bowling Green.  Shana Wheeler blocked a career-high six shots while Marlies Gipson tied her career-high with five rejections.  Ashley Sweat and Kimberly Dietz each had a block against the Cowgirls.  K-State also rejected 12 shots against Santa Clara on Dec. 15 and 10 shots against Weber State on Dec. 17.

NON-CONFERENCE: The Wildcats finished the non-conference schedule with a 12-1 record and tied for second best pre-Big 12 start in the Deb Patterson era.  K-State posted a 12-1 (.923) record in 2001-02 followed by 13-1 (.929) record in 2002-03.