Second Half Defense Propels K-State

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. Following early shooting struggles and trailing by as many as eight, Kansas State caught fire midway through the first half and used an aggressive style play in the second frame to finish its Thanksgiving road trip 2-0 after topping Jacksonville, 53-43, Friday night at Swisher Gymnasium.

Kansas State combated a season-high 20 turnovers by holding Jacksonville to just 15 second half points. The Wildcats, who shot 40.9 percent (18-of-44), limited the Dolphins to just 30.0 percent from the field (18-for-60) and out-rebounded Jacksonville 41-34.

The Wildcats were led by Ashley Sweat and Kari Kincaid as each scored 11 points, while Kincaid nailed three of her six three pointers. Shalee Lehning led all players with 11 rebounds and also scored seven points and registered six assists.

The victory marked the first time since the 2005-06 campaign and the third time under head coach Deb Patterson that the Wildcats have started a season with a perfect 5-0 record. K-State also handed Jacksonville just its fourth home loss in the last 30 games.

Jacksonville jumped all over K-State from the outset, leading by as many as eight at 12-4, which forced the Wildcats to call their second timeout of the game just over five minutes in.

Following the timeout, Kansas State came back with a 5-0 spurt, capped by a Kelsey Nelson three-pointer to make the score 12-9. However, the Wildcats still faced an uphill climb as they trailed throughout the first 15 minutes of the half and didn’t even reach double digits until the 10:43 mark of the frame.

With the Dolphins holding a 20-15 lead with 6:24 left, K-State went on a  9-0 run over the next 2:39, taking the lead for the first time on a deep three-pointer from Kincaid. The Dolphins would not back down, though, as they outscored the Cats 8-3 over the final minutes to take a 28-27 halftime lead.

Just as Jacksonville did to open the game, Kansas State came out of the locker room aggressive and blitzed the Dolphins in the opening minutes of the second half. The Wildcats scored the half’s first seven points and held Jacksonville scoreless for the first three minutes of the frame to take a 34-28 lead.

The Dolphins came back and took their first lead of the second stanza at 35-34 before the two teams traded the next three buckets. Both teams suddenly went cold as a 3:28 scoreless drought followed, but K-State broke up the drought as it went on another 9-0 run to take a 48-39 lead..

Jacksonville got within seven at 48-41 after a pair of free throws, but the Wildcats were just too demanding down the stretch as they held on for the 10 point win.

The Wildcats return to action next Friday, December 5, as K-State hosts the Commerce Bank Wildcat Classic at Bramlage Coliseum. Mississippi Valley State takes on Arkansas at 4 p.m., while Kansas State faces Alcorn State at 6 p.m.