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TODAY'S SPORTS EXTRA

K-State WBB Eager for Another Ranked Opponent in Thursday's Big 12/SEC Challenge at No. 19 Missouri

November 30, 2017
By Corbin McGuire


There are certainly improvements to be made, but K-State women's basketball head coach Jeff Mittie likes the growth his team has made in its first three of a four-game trip away from Bramlage Coliseum.

The fourth-year head coach hopes to see some more in Thursday's game at (19/18) Missouri, part of the 2017 Big 12/SEC Challenge. K-State's final game of this road trip will tip at 8 p.m., and be available on the SEC Network and ESPN3.

"In the non-con, you know you're going to have to have some success. You just are," Mittie said. "We knew with the group that we were playing, with a couple of road games, that this was a critical stretch. This will be another critical game for this team."

Between a comeback victory at North Texas, a nine-point loss to (5/4) UCLA in Las Vegas, Nevada, and a 70-65 win over Penn State the next day, there have been plenty of positives.

The Wildcats (5-1) handed North Texas its only loss to date, then battled closely with a UCLA squad that beat Baylor by 14 points, before knocking off Penn State, which won 21 games a year ago.

Freshman guard Rachel Ranke and senior Kaylee Page both came up big down the stretch at North Texas. Peyton Williams, now solely with basketball as her volleyball season ended last week, notched 19 points on 7-of-11 from the field against Penn State. Freshman forwards Ashley Ray and Mary Lakes also displayed "stretches of good basketball" during this stint away from Manhattan, Mittie said.

"I felt like we had a lot of players grow up and handle situations pretty well. We had a lot of different people step up," Mittie said. "All in all, it was a pretty solid trip."

 

Junior point guard Kayla Goth, averaging 16.3 points and 5.3 assists in the last three games, pointed to improved chemistry, along with a better awareness of strengths and weaknesses, when describing the team's growth through six games.

She also credited her team's ability to create opportunities at the free throw line. K-State outscored North Texas 13-1 and Penn State 18-8 at the charity stripe to overcome below-average 3-point shooting performances.

"It's always a positive to have that free throw advantage over the other team," she said. "That may be one of the reasons we end up winning that Penn State game. We got to the free throw line a fair amount more than they did, as well as the North Texas game."

As close as the Wildcats played UCLA, which has won its other five games by an average of 27.8 points, Goth knows they could have performed better. Namely, their transition defense and rebounding could have been better. Both have been areas of focus leading into the Wildcats' second battle with a ranked team this season.

"There's a lot of things that we struggled with, a lot of reasons we lost that game," said Goth of the UCLA loss. "We had a lot of opportunities to win that game, so I think trying to carry that forward to the Mizzou game is definitely going to be a positive for us."

Missouri (5-1) brings a balanced attack. The Tigers are led by junior guard Sophie Cunningham (17.8 PPG), redshirt senior forward Jordan Frericks (16.0 PPG) and 6-foot-4 junior Cierra Porter (11.0 PPG, 11.0 RPG). K-State will also face a familiar face in Lauren Aldridge, a transfer from Kansas, who is contributing 5.3 points and 4.5 assists per game so far.

"Their offense is very versatile. It starts with Cunningham. Frericks has given them an inside veteran presence," Mittie said. "They're just a team that all five can hurt you out of the starting group. It's a pretty veteran group together, so their versatility is big and then they have the two stars in Frericks and Cunningham who are big-time players."

 

 

We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact Corbin McGuire, or K-State Associate AD for Communications Kenny Lannou.

   

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