Iowa State’s starters outscored the Kansas State starting five 53-29 in today’s quarterfinal contest in the Big 12 Women’s Basketball Championship at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City.
So the career-high 25 points poured in by sophomore Kayla Goth were pretty important, as were the dozen scored by freshman Eternati Willock. In all, K-State’s bench outscored the Cyclone reserves 45-14, and Goth led a mid-game charge which propelled the Wildcats to a 74-67 win.
The first quarter was a disaster for the Wildcats (22-9, 11-7) as Iowa State built a 15-7 lead. The Cats opened the game shooting a miserable 2-16 from the floor and Bre Lewis picked up three fouls. But Goth took over in the second quarter, going on a personal 6-0 run to bring K-State within a basket, and adding five more points before the half to send her team to the locker room with a 25-24 lead.
The onslaught continued in the third quarter, as Goth scored 10 points in the quarter to push K-State to a 54-47 advantage. Goth finally cooled off in the fourth, but her teammates suddenly got back in the swing. Bre Lewis scored six straight points, her only scoring of the night, before fouling out. Kindred Wesemann nailed four important free throws as time dwindled. But Goth herself also drained four, pushing her past her previous career high of 23.
Indeed, everyone was making their free throws down the stretch; the Wildcats sank a dozen straight in the final 90 seconds. In the face of that excellent shooting, the Cyclones (18-12, 9-9) were simply unable to chip the lead away.
After that horrendous 2-16 start, K-State actually shot 38% from the floor; they hit 48% in the final 30 minutes. Both teams shot 83% from the stripe, but K-State had twice as many attempts thanks to the late-game clock management attempt.
The win propels the Wildcats into the Big 12 semifinals, where — barring something utterly absurd occurring in the second game today — they will face a potentially impassable barrier in the #1-ranked Baylor Bears. But they’ve done what they had to do this weekend in avoiding the loss today. In the latest Bracketology, K-State is a 6 seed. A win tomorrow would probably get K-State a hosting assignment, but a loss won’t cause them to drop.
And ultimately, a 6-seed might just be the best spot for this team to be hiding. The chance to score a second-round NCAA upset and then get a 2-seed rather than a 1 in the Sweet Sixteen can’t be under-estimated.