December 29, 2008 in Sports

K-State pulls away from Cougars

WSU women’s upset bid fades late
By The Spokesman-Review
Saturday: WSU at Washington, 1 p.m. TV: FSN

PULLMAN – The young, upset-minded Washington State women’s basketball team was down two points as the clock dipped under the 10-minute mark of the second half, but it was no sweat for 22nd-ranked Kansas State.

Or maybe too much Sweat.

Ashley Sweat scored 30 points as the Wildcats (11-0) matched the best start in school history with a 74-58 win over the Cougars (7-4) on Sunday afternoon before 818 fans at Friel Court.

And it’s a good thing the 6-foot-2 junior who averages 14.1 points had a big day, hitting 14 of 19 shots, because the game was set up for WSU to get the upset win.

The Cougars had fewer turnovers (12-8), way more rebounds (45-36 including an astounding 27-9 difference in offensive boards) and more balance (three players in double figures to two). What the Cougars couldn’t do was shoot, finishing the game at 31 percent from the field and 47 percent from the foul line, while the Wildcats shot 57 percent after a 60.7 percent second half.

“There are so many positives about the loss,” Cougars coach June Daugherty said. “I know that’s quite funny to hear but … we were right there. They did what veteran teams do. They made their run and we had some mistakes and when we made mistakes their seniors are going to knock down shots – that’s the way seniors do things, especially seniors used to winning at a high level.”

It started with Sweat, who had 17 points in the first half. With the Cougars hot on K-State’s heels, Sweat hit four straight Wildcat baskets and five in seven possessions.

It was after the one possession in the Sweat run that KSU didn’t score where things might have been different. Sweat scored to make it 51-47, then Kezia Kelly made two free throws on national assist leader Shalee Lehning’s fourth foul, getting the small crowd into the game. After the Wildcats turned it over, Katie Appleton appeared to knock down a 3-pointer from the left wing, only to have the ball somehow pop back out.

After Sweat and WSU freshman Rosie Tarnowski traded baskets, Sweat scored on a post up to make it 55-51 with 9:45 to play. She followed that with a reverse layup and after 6-foot senior Marlies Gipson, who had 16 points and 13 rebounds, hit a short pull up, Sweat drove for a basket that made it 61-51 with 6:59 to go.

After a Coug basket ended a five-minute drought, K-State pushed the run to 17-2 as Sweat added a 3 and an easy basket from Lehning, who had nine assists, in a 9-0 surge.

With three freshmen in the starting lineup, the Cougars shook off a 6-0 deficit to take a 17-13 lead on a basket by Jazmine Perkins, who led the Cougars with 18 points. Then Sweat took the Wildcats on a 16-0 run as WSU missed six shots (plus four free throws) and had four turnovers in a 6:44 span. Yet they battled back behind Perkins and Heather Molzen, who had 13 points and 11 rebounds).

“Our coaches tell us to try not to play the score,” Appleton said. “We just have to go back down the court and execute and make a stop on D.”

When Lexie Pettersen hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from the right corner the Cougs pulled within 33-30 at the half.

“It was fun, it was fun for the whole team,” Molzen said. “That’s probably the most fun I’ve had in a game because we rallied back so many times. We never gave up. Except for that last 10 minutes, we needed to rally that one last time.”

Portland 48, Idaho 44: The Vandals came back from an 18-point defcit in the first half, but the comeback fell short in a loss to the Pilots in Portland.

Idaho jumped out to a 7-2 lead, but Portland followed with a 24-3 run as the Vandals went on a 12-minute field goal drought. Idaho trailed 28-15 at the half.

The Vandals chipped away at the Portland lead, with Yinka Olorunnife scoring 15 of her game-high 20 points after the break. Idaho closed to within 45-44 with 1:24 left in the game, but the Vandals’ 22nd turnover of the game led to a Karlie Burris three-point play that sealed the win for the Pilots.

North Idaho 63, CC Spokane 51: Bianca Cheever scored 18 points and Marielle McKean added 13 to lead the Cardinals past the Sasquatch and into the championship game of the Chemeketa tournament at Salem, Ore.

North Idaho will play Lane today at 4 p.m.

Kelsey Stillar led CCS with 13 points. The Sasquatch will play Columbia Basin in the third-place game today at 2 p.m.

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