Wildcats fall in WNIT semifinals against Utah

Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State Wildcats

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COURTESY: Kansas St. Sports Information

MANHATTAN, Kan. – After knocking off four straight opponents to reach the semifinal round of the 2013 Women’s National Invitational Tournament (WNIT), Kansas State fell to Utah, 54-46, Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum. The loss ended a 13-game home court winning streak for the Wildcats in the WNIT.

Senior Brittany Chambers ended her stellar career with her eighth double-double this season of 16 points and 10 rebounds, both team highs. Fellow senior Mariah White had six points and five rebounds.

Chambers was joined in double figures by Chantay Caron and Haley Texada who each scored 11 points.

From the opening tip, Utah (23-13) jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, holding K-State (19-18) without a field goal within the first three minutes of the game. A Caron layup, followed by a pair of free throws from Chambers, broke the Wildcats’ scoring drought, cutting the Utah lead to 7-4 with 16 minutes left in the half. But the scoring of Utah’s Michelle Plouffe and Taryn Wicijowski propelled a 14-3 run, with Utah expanding its lead to 21-7 at the eight-minute mark, as the duo scored 15 of their team’s 21 points during that stretch.

Despite shooting an icy 22 percent in the first half, including a 1-of-11 effort from beyond the arc,  the Wildcats were able to fight back to cut the Utah lead to single digits with under a minute left until halftime. Chambers scored six of her first-half 10 points over the final five minutes to get K-State back within striking distance as the first half came to an end, with the Utes holding a 26-17 lead.

After trading baskets to open the second half, K-State used four points from Caron and Texada to cut the lead to 30-23. Utah then answered with a 5-0 scoring run to open its lead back to double digits before the Wildcats were able to trim the Utes’ lead to six at 39-35 with nine and a half minutes to play.

Holding Utah without a field goal for nearly six minutes, K-State stormed back with a 16-4 run to tie the game at 39-39 with two minutes on the clock. Again, Chambers shined in the closing minutes of the half, this time scoring six points over the last six minutes.

With the score knotted at 39 apiece, both squads turned up the defensive pressure, not allowing a point over the last two minutes of regulation, forcing overtime.

In the extra period, Utah outscored K-State 15-7 behind six points from Plouffe, to defeat the Wildcats, 54-46, and advance to the finals of the WNIT, where the Utes will face the Drexel Dragons on Saturday.

The Utes were paced by Plouffe, who registered a game-high 24 points, and Wicijowski, who recorded 18 points and a game-high 17 rebounds.

Playing with seven players for the final 19 games of the season, Kansas State reached the postseason for the 11th time in the last 12 seasons. K-State will return five players for the 2013-14 season that saw significant action in 2012-13.

Kansas State Wildcats
Kansas State Wildcats
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