What's a good way to make up for a home loss to your in-state rival? For K-State's women, throttling No. 11 Texas, 87-69, was a good start on Wednesday night in Bramlage Coliseum.
"It might be the biggest (win) of my career, honestly," senior guard Kayla Goth said, after posting a team-high 20 points and 12 assists. "I mean, the 11th-ranked team in the country… that's probably the biggest win of my career."
K-State (11-6, 2-3) built its lead on high energy and a competitiveness head coach Jeff Mittie applauded after the game.
"Obviously we played outstanding tonight, did a lot of really good things, but I think the best thing we did was we competed harder," said Mittie, whose team shot 53.6 percent for the game, grabbed 11 offensive rebounds and forced 14 turnovers. "We competed on the glass. We competed offensively; I thought our cuts were much harder. We just competed.
"The one thing I kept telling them is that when you do that, you give yourself an opportunity. If you don't do it, you really aren't ever going to have an opportunity to win big games. When you compete and you fight like that, then you give yourself an opportunity. I think that's what we did tonight."
K-State dominated the first half, 42-23, behind a 50-percent shooting performance and a feistiness that led to extra opportunities. Even more, the Wildcats took advantage of most of them. They turned seven offensive rebounds into 14 second-chance points, while also scoring 14 points off Texas' 10 turnovers in the first half.
"I thought the zone was really active. In the zone, we get more turnovers when we're active, and we were very active in that stretch," Mittie said. "You do have to take advantage of it."
In terms of hustle plays that led to something positive, there were handfuls of examples for K-State.
One was when Jasauen Beard sprinted for a loose ball on its way out of bounds up the sideline, grabbed it and shoveled it to Christianna Carr for an easy layup. Another occurred when senior Kali Jones grabbed two offensive rebounds on one possession, which led to Rachel Ranke canning a 3-pointer to put K-State up 35-17.
"It's great when shots are falling, but whenever you feel like Texas was trying to make a run back at you, those hustle plays are integral to keeping us in the game and keeping us ahead," Peyton Williams, who finished with 18 points and eight rebounds, said. "(Beard's play) obviously was a risk, but it was a good risk, and that made us all super excited. It really keeps the energy going."
Williams got K-State going early, scoring 11 first-quarter points that included a trio of 3-pointers. But it was Goth, who played 40 minutes, that kept her team going.
The senior point guard dished out a school-record seven assists in the opening quarter. In the second quarter, she knocked down a midrange jumper with a Longhorn in her face. She would hit a similar shot about three minutes later; only this time she was fouled and converted it into a three-point play. She then broke out for 15 points in the second half to secure K-State's highest-ranked win since the Wildcats took down 10th-ranked Texas Tech in Lubbock on January 14, 2012.
"Toughness," Mittie said of Goth's performance. "I thought she kept a poise. She said poise a lot tonight. That always pleases me when our guard is tired but she's saying, 'We have to play with poise,' because that's something I'm always preaching."
K-State kept its poise when Texas started the second half with a 9-2 run. Behind two jumpers and an assist from Goth, K-State answered with a 7-0 spurt to push its lead back to 17. The Longhorns got no closer than 14 from that point on.
"I felt like we left it all out there. I felt like we had players who were doing their job all over the place," Williams said, as K-State travels to face Texas Tech on Saturday. "I felt like it was a game that we played the whole game, so I was proud of that. The consistency (part) is what we're trying to work on. It was evident that we're getting better."