It was more than just another home game for the Kansas State Wildcats.
Sure, it was in Bramlage Coliseum, playing on the same Powercat-adorned court in front of a huge purple contingent. But it was anything but another home game.
Due to a scheduling conflict, the 2-seed Stanford Cardinals were unable to host their pod, and so it went to the next-highest seed in that pod, the 7-seed Wildcats. And so, to start NCAA Tournament play, the Wildcats got a home game.
And they took advantage.
The Wildcats, facing a Drake Bulldogs ranked 18th in the nation and on the heels of a 22-game win streak, came out and rode a double-double game from Breanna Lewis to a big first-round victory, 67-54. The Missouri Valley champs had no answer for the Wildcat’s star center, and the Wildcat defense kept Drake well below it’s previous season-low of 63.
The Wildcats opened up the game with a 20-point first quarter before slowing down, thanks to lots of sloppy passing and turnovers — the Cats finished the game with 18 turnovers, the majority coming in the second and third quarters. But in the fourth the Wildcats returned to early form, putting up 24 points to finish putting away the Bulldogs.
Breanna Lewis was the start of the show. Lewis dropped in a season-high-tying 23 points and grabbed 11 rebounds for yet another double-double on the season. She was joined in double figures by fellow senior Kindred Wesemann and her 16 points, including four threes. Drake’s star forward, the MVC player of the year Lizzy Wendell, scored 17 points but was only able to pick up three rebounds against the Cats and Lewis. Overall, the Wildcats out-rebounded the Bulldogs 41-26.
K-State has now advanced to the second round two years in a row, both trips to the NCAA tournament under third-year head coach Jeff Mittie. The Wildcats will take on 2-seed Stanford, who struggled through much of their match-up with 15-seed New Mexico State, on Monday, March 20th (game time not yet available)