Kansas State, playing in their first NCAA tournament since the 2011-2012 season, made the most of their opening round game, sneaking out of their first round matchup with the George Washington Colonials, 56-51. The Lady Wildcats will matchup Sunday against the winner of (1)South Carolina/(16)Jacksonville for a berth in the Sweet Sixteen.
The Colonials came into the game came into the game 26-6 overall, 13-3 in the Atlantic 10, earning the A10's championship and automatic bid, while K-State at 18-12, 8-10 in Big 12 play, finished 6th in the regular season, and got knocked out on day 2 of the Big 12 tourney.
George Washington came into this game with some firepower, with All-American candidate Caira Washington earning first-team All-A10 honors, and Jonquel Jones and Lauren Chase ending up on second-team All-A10 as well as All-Defensive team in the A10. The Wildcats had their work cut out for them.
The Colonials came out and took an early lead on the Wildcats in the first quarter, but couldn't really create a major separation. Sloppy basketball on the part of both teams kept the score close, whether it was turnovers, poor shot selection, or missed free throws. The height of GW clearly affected the Wildcats' offensive plans, as the Colonials could often put four girls on the floor taller than six feet, including the 6-2 Washington and 6-4 Jones. The ugliness culminated in an eight-point second quarter by the Wildcats, allowing the Colonials to stretch a 14-14 game out to a 31-22 halftime advantage, while saddling the K-State bigs Breanna Lewis and Jessica Sheble with 3 fouls apiece, while Kaylee Page picked up two whistles.
K-State came out in the second half swinging, though - and returned the favor by outscoring George Washington 17-7 in the third period to take a one-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Wildcats held GW to 2-13 shooting in the quarter and forced 7 turnovers in the period. K-State's Megan Deines led the way on offense, scoring 8 points on 4-6 shooting in the quarter, as well as assisting on a three by Kindred Wesemann that tied the game at 31-all.
The Wildcats' Breanna Lewis made a huge appearance in the fourth quarter, despite foul trouble. Before fouling out late in the stanza, she scored 6 on 3-4 shooting, as well as grabbed 4 rebounds, to keep K-State out front. Every time K-State would stretch the lead out to 3 or 4, George Washington's Jonquel Jones had an answer. Jones came up with a big rebound, or blocked shot, or hit a couple free throws to make sure the Colonials stayed in contact. Ultimately, it came down to a free-throw shooting contest at the end. K-State was able to "correct" their absolutely-awful 4-13 from the charity stripe by finishing the game going 6-8, including a big offensive rebound by Bri Craig after missing two (she went back to the line to hit a pair of freebies) to seal the deal. Survive and move on.
This game was notably sloppy, with the two teams combining for 36 turnovers. K-State got the better end of the tilt, committing 15 to 21 by the Colonials.
The Wildcats, despite the 15 turnovers, did a good job of moving the basketball. K-State assisted on 18 of their 21 made baskets, led by Kindred Wesemann's 7 dimes.
K-State held the Colonials to 25.8% from the floor (15-58), including a big ol' goose egg from outside the arc (0-10), while forcing 21 turnovers and blocking 10 shots (Lewis with a K-State postseason record with 6). Meanwhile, George Washington kept K-State to 38.2% from the floor (21-55), 4-10 from outside the arc, and swatted 11 shots of their own (Jones with 6).
The Colonials absolutely owned the glass, outrebounding K-State 50-34, including amassing 19(!) offensive boards.
Co-Players Of The Game: Megan Deines & Breanna Lewis
Deines used a big third quarter to energize the Wildcat squad and battle back to take their first lead over the Colonials. Her 14 points paced the Cats (6-12 FG, 0-3 3PFG, 2-3 FT), and she added 2 assists, 2 steals and a rebound.
Breanna Lewis fouled out with 20 seconds left, and spent a chunk of the second and late third quarters on the bench to manage the foul situation. During her time on the floor, though, she was ballin' - finishing with 13 points (6-11 FG, 1-6 FT), 8 rebounds, and the mentioned school-record 6 blocked shots.
Other Notable Performances
Wesemann was launching but not connecting; she still finished with 8 points (2-10 FG, 2-7 3PFG, 2-4 FT), 7 assists, 3 rebounds and 2 steals.
Sophomore Shaelyn Martin filled the stat sheet up, finishing with 7 points (2-8 FG, 1-2 3PFG, 2-2 FT), led the team with 9 rebounds, and added 6 assists.
The Colonials' Jonquel Jones did what she could with a double-double, and finished with 20 points (5-15 FG, 0-3 3PFG, 10-12 FT), 13 rebounds, and added the aforementioned 6 blocked shots. Caira Washington only came up with 5 points (1-8 FG, 3-4 FT), but added 12 rebounds of her own. Hannah Schaible contributed 11 points, 5 boards, 2 assists, 2 blocks, and a steal.
Hey, we get to talk about an actual "next game"! Pay attention later tonight, as top-seeded South Carolina takes on 16-seed Jacksonville (SC up double-digits heading into halftime), as the winner will go toe-to-toe with the Wildcats on Sunday. Not sure what time the game is slated for, but it appears to be on ESPN2 programming.