By Arne Green
MANHATTAN — Kansas State's women got a reality check but still were able to cash in.
The Wildcats, playing without three of their top veterans, squandered a 21-point first-half lead but had enough left in the tank to recover in the fourth quarter Tuesday night for a 75-59 exhibition victory over Washburn at Bramlage Coliseum.
"Overall I liked what I saw," K-State coach Jeff Mittie said of the Wildcats' debut. "I liked the fact that we responded when Washburn made the run on us, and while I don't like that run happening, we'll try to correct that and answer it better next time.
"But I liked the answer that we gave in the fourth quarter."
Actually, the Wildcats finally seized control at the end of the third quarter, closing with six straight free throws to go up by five, then scoring the first eight points of the fourth quarter.
And they did it without returning starters Rachel Ranke, Christianna Carr and Peyton Williams as well as freshman post Emma Chapman. Ranke, Carr and Chapman watched from the bench while Williams, the Wildcats' all-Big 12 forward, was out of town with the volleyball team.
"Emma, Rachel and Christianna, they procrastinated something that I wanted everybody to get done before the season," Mittie said. "So they'll play on Friday (against Fort Hays State).
"They got it done, they just didn't get it done when I asked them to get it done."
The Wildcats still had four double-figure scorers in the game, led by 6-foot-5 redshirt freshman Ayoka Lee with 18 points and seven rebounds. Senior forward Jasauen Beard added 16 points, seven rebounds, five steals and four assists, with sophomore guard Cyomne Goodrich contributing 14 points and senior guard Angela Harris 12.
"I thought there were some good things tonight," Mittie said. "We got off to a great start.
"Loved the energy, loved (that) the defense was creating a lot of our offense. I thought our group was really getting after Washburn."
K-State used a 21-1 run over the last 5 1/2 minutes of the first quarter and into the second to build its first-half lead.
After Sabela Reigosa's three-point play pulled Washburn within a point at 9-8, the Wildcats slammed the door, limiting the Ichabods to one free throw the rest of the period for a 27-9 advantage. They stretched it to 30-9 on a Laura Macke drive from the right wing and a Harris free throw before Washburn broke the drought on Shelbe Piggie's 3-pointer with 7:22 left in the half.
That started an eight-point run for the Ichabods. K-State led 38-23 at the half.
But Washburn stormed back after the break, putting together a 19-3 run to tie it at 41 when Reigosa scored and was fouled. She missed the free throw, but Alexis McAfee was fouled on the rebound and hit one foul shot to put the Ichabods in front.
"It was pretty good. We had stretches there where we got them to miss," Washburn coach Ron McHenry said. "We weren't fouling and kept them off the foul line and I think they hit only one field goal for a long stretch.
"We got in transition. We've been working on that quite a bit and we've got some kids that can get out and play transition, so the game kind of fell into what we've been looking for. We made some nice passes and hit some big threes."
The Ichabods had to rely on transition and perimeter shooting after meeting stiff resistance under the basket from Lee and Ashley Ray. And ultimately they were unable to keep K-State off the foul line.
The Wildcats hit 12 of 14 free throws in the third quarter.
Washburn was led by Piggie and Hunter Bentley with 11 points each, with Bentley also grabbing 11 rebounds.
For K-State, Goodrich had a promising return after missing last season with a shoulder injury
"It feels really good," said Goodrich, who hit 5 of 14 shots, grabbed six rebounds and had two steals. "Just being able to play injury free, it feels amazing.
"I think today I did pretty well, also today I left a lot of points off the board — I missed a lot of layups. But I'm proud of myself, I would say."
Lee dominated inside when she was in the game, hitting eight of 11 shots, but was limited to 19 minutes by foul trouble.