Wildcats Defeat KU in Sunflower Showdown
"I can't say enough about the team. I can't say enough about the fans," said Mittie after the game. "Really, those two things, I think, won this game for us. We were tentative early, and you could kind of see the nerves and anxiety early in this game when we were down 14-2, but the fans hung with us, and I can't say enough about their energy today because we certainly needed them. It was big."
Despite a first half in which K-State fell behind by as many as 14 points, the Wildcats bunkered down on defense and came back in the second half to secure the win. Holding the Jayhawks to just 17 second-half points, it took a complete team effort and the Wildcats stepped up and pulled together for the win.
"Our group has been connected all year," continued Mittie. "These guys work hard. I love the way they come to work every day. I love the way they practice. For the most part, they've come in and tried to do everything they could to get better. So, I think they really got connected even better in the second half. Defensively, I think that's the best we've ever been."
Senior Ashia Woods led K-State in scoring with a game-high 15 points followed by junior Brianna Craig, who scored 13 and made, perhaps, the play of the game in the closing minute when she sunk a three-pointer to put K-State up by six.
And when senior Haley Texada was taken out of the game with an injury, sophomore Kindred Wesemann stepped up by scoring 11 points and going a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
"I thought this was one of Kindred Wesemann's best games," said Mittie. "With Texada out, it was critical that Kindred play well, and I thought she played very well; she played very aggressive."
But it wasn't just Wesemann who stepped it up from the charity stripe. Although free throws may have been the Wildcats' weakness earlier in the season, that wasn't the case yesterday afternoon. Overall, K-State shot a season-high 77.3 percent (17-22) from the free throw line.
"We've struggled at the line, but I felt like we stepped to the line with confidence today," said Woods. "We knew it was a big game, the Sunflower Showdown, and we needed the win. It was a good win and we had a lot of players step up. Making those free throws was critical."
On the defensive end of the court, sophomore forward Breanna Lewis wasn't letting the Jayhawks anywhere near the rim. Recording eight blocks in the win, Lewis broke the K-State single game record for blocks and helped hold Kansas to just 22.2 percent shooting from the field in the second half.
"I was struggling offensively, so I just tried to make up for it by playing good defense and getting blocks and steals, whenever I could so I could get back on offense and potentially score," said Lewis who, along with her eight blocks, recorded eight points and four rebounds. "I didn't know I had eight blocks until the end of the game, so I was really surprised. It feels good (to break the record) and I want to get more, but whatever I can do to help my teammates out, that's what I want."
While it took the entire team to get the job done, yesterday's win marked K-State's first Big 12 victory of the 2014-15 season and Mittie's first Big 12 victory at K-State.
"These are the games that I came to K-State for: these kind of games, these kind of crowds," said Mittie with a smile on his face after the win. "It was a lot of fun to be in, it was an intense, hotly-contested game, and I hope we have a bunch more just like it."
Next up for K-State is a trip to Stillwater, Oklahoma, where it will take on the Oklahoma State Cowgirls (11-3, 1-2 Big 12) on Wednesday evening at 7 p.m.
For complete stats, quotes and more from yesterday's Sunflower Showdown victory, please click here.