Expectations were tempered for the Kansas State Wildcats (RV, three points) entering this season after it was announced that star center Ayoka Lee would be out due to knee surgery. But wow did they secure a big win Thursday night.
Oklahoma transfer Gabby Gregory scored the Wildcats’ final six points on free throws to lift the team to an 84-83 victory over the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes at home in Manhattan, Kansas. Gregory made her first 12 free throws of the contest, including going 4-of-4 on the first four of the final six. Things got nerve-racking down the stretch though, as she failed to give Kansas State the lead with 36 seconds remaining, going 1-of-2 at the stripe and instead tying the game at 83. She also went 1-of-2 with four ticks left, but the one was all the Wildcats needed.
Iowa superstar Caitlin Clark was injured on the Hawkeyes’ final possession and her team failed to score:
Hopefully Clark is alright. M.A. Voepel of ESPN wrote that she “walked gingerly but unaided out of Bramlage Coliseum.”
This is exactly what Kansas State needed to get itself into the rankings and if it can beat the No. 4 team in the country, its ceiling is very high.
Serena Sundell dropped 24 points in the win to go along with six rebounds, five assists and two steals. Gregory also had 24 points and LSU transfer Sarah Shemasti went 6-of-10 from beyond the arc for 18 points.
Kansas State showed support for Iowa commit Ava Jones, who is from Kansas and is trying to work her way back to basketball after being struck by a car, with T-shirts that said “K-State believes in Ava Jones.” Iowa wore the same shirts. For more on Jones’ story, click the link below:
Both @iowawbb and @KStateWBB players wore shirts honoring Hawkeyes recruit @avajones_35, who was injured by impaired driver in July. Ava, who is from Nickerson, Kan., is here at Kansas State tonight with family. pic.twitter.com/ep9SU8U1vu— M.A. Voepel (@MAVoepel) November 18, 2022
It’s been an eventful first three games for the Wildcats (3-0, 0-0 Big 12), as head coach Jeff Mittie reached 600 career wins after the team’s 40-point season-opening win over Central Arkansas and the program reached 1,000 wins after the second game of the season.
Gregory is averaging 22.7 points and 6.7 boards, Sundell is averaging 16 points, 6.3 boards and 5.7 assists and Jaelyn Glenn is averaging 12.3 points, 4.7 boards and four steals.
No. 3 Texas Longhorns (1-1, 0-0 Big 12)
Preseason All-America honorable mention Rori Harmon has yet to play for the Longhorns due to a foot injury. Without her, Texas turned the ball over 25 and 18 times in its first two games. The 25 were concerning as they came against Louisiana, but the Longhorns won that game by 23, which was solid. Their 18 turnovers against No. 5 UConn weren’t as concerning. The fact that they lost that game isn’t too concerning either, seeing as it was by just seven points on the road without Harmon.
Oregon State transfer Taylor Jones is leading the team with 15.5 points, seven rebounds and four blocks per game off the bench.
No. 7 Iowa State Cyclones (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Ashley Joens started off her highly-anticipated fifth year with 24 points in the first half of the Cyclones’ opener. Iowa State cruised to victory in each of its first two games, but endured a scare in its third game, only defeating Northern Iowa 88-85. That’s not a good sign for the No. 7 team in the country, but it has plenty of time to improve. Joens broke the program record for made field goals in the game against UNI — she now has 795. She is averaging 23 points and 11.3 rebounds through three games. Redshirt senior and NAIA transfer Stephanie Soares is averaging 15.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.7 blocks. Soares, who is a 6-foot-6 forward/center, was the NAIA Division I Player of the Year in each of her last two healthy seasons.
No. 17 Baylor Bears (3-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Missouri transfer Aijha Blackwell has been Baylor’s best player so far with 14 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. Head coach Nicki Collen has labeled Blackwell’s time in the SEC as good preparation. Jaden Owens leads the team with 7.7 assists and 2.7 steals per game, while freshman Darianna Littlepage-Buggs leads in rebounds (10 per game) and blocks (two per game). The Bears won their first two games by 38 and 29 points, but received a scare from SMU in their third game, only winning by three. It took a clutch three from freshman Bella Fontleroy to pull out the victory. That’s concerning for a team that has to play No. 19 Maryland on Sunday, though the Terrapins have also had a close call, only beating Fordham by seven.
No. 16 Oklahoma Sooners (3-1, 0-0 Big 12)
The Sooners are coming off a 46-point Wednesday loss to No. 25 Utah that saw them give up 124 points. It was reminiscent of the 44-point loss (108 points surrendered) to Notre Dame that ended their season in the second round of last year’s NCAA Tournament. It’s concerning that they are vulnerable to poor defensive efforts that lead to blowout losses, though they were playing for the second day in a row on Wednesday. Oklahoma does have a 23-point win over an SMU team that came within three points of Baylor and an 11-point win over a BYU team that was receiving votes in the preseason. However, the Cougars are 0-3 with their other losses coming to Colorado State and Montana State.
On a positive note, the Sooners have done the following:
- 11/7/2022: 38 points in the first quarter (a program record for a single quarter)
- 11/7/2022: 19 assists in the first half (a program record for a single half)
- 11/11/2022: Six players made two or more threes, a program first
- 11/15/2022: Fifth-year senior Taylor Robertson reached 2,000 career points
Madi Williams leads Oklahoma with 18.5 points per game, while Nevaeh Tot is averaging 11.8 points and 4.8 assists.
RV (13 points) Kansas Jayhawks (2-0, 0-0 Big 12)
Taiyanna Jackson has opened the season with two double-doubles for the Jayhawks and blocked the 100th shot of her Division I career on Wednesday. Jackson is a senior but this is just her second year in Division I. She broke Kansas’ single-season mark with 95 rejections last year. She is averaging 16 points, 12.5 rebounds and three blocks through two games this year.
The Jayhawks haven’t blown away their competition, only defeating Jacksonville by 11 and UT Arlington by five.
West Virginia Mountaineers (2-0, 0-0 Big 12)
The Mountaineers forced more turnovers (41) in their opener than they had forced in a single contest in 11 years. They then forced 30 turnovers Thursday morning in front of 6,640 in attendance — their ninth-largest crowd. They won by 50 and 22 points, respectively. JJ Quinerly and Madisen Smith are both averaging 13 points for the team.
Oklahoma State Cowgirls (4-0, 0-0 Big 12)
The Cowgirls have cruised to a 4-0 start. They surpassed 100 points on Monday and secured their first road victory on Thursday. In the latter contest they defeated Missouri State 73-54 behind 28 points from Kansas City transfer Naomie Alnatas. UT Arlington transfer Claire Chastain and Villanova transfer Lior Garzon have also been key in the scoring column, while Taylen Collins has been great on the glass.
TCU Horned Frogs (2-1, 0-0 Big 12)
The Horned Frogs have two close wins and a blowout road loss at No. 13 UNC. They beat Lipscomb by seven in their opener and UTSA by seven on Wednesday. The 28-point loss to the Tar Heels came this past Saturday. Iowa transfer Tomi Taiwo leads the team in scoring (12.7 points per game) and steals per game (2.3). American transfer Emily Fisher (9.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and five assists per game) and Knisha Godfrey (10.7 points and 5.3 rebounds per game) have also been key. Godfrey was the No. 40 Hoop Gurlz recruit in 2021. This is really like her freshman year since she had only played eight minutes of college basketball (at Mississippi State) coming in.
Texas Tech Lady Raiders (2-1, 0-0 Big 12)
On Wednesday night, the Lady Raiders picked up a Power 5 win over Colorado, which is picked to finish eighth in the Pac-12. The game went to overtime, with Texas Tech eking out an 86-85 win. It had trailed by 16 in regulation. The Lady Raiders went 36-of-41 at the stripe with the 36 tying a program record. They had lost their previous game to Jackson State. Rhyle McKinney leads the team with 18 points per game.