The Kansas State Wildcats saw its NCAA Women’s Tournament run come to an end with a 89-57 loss to NC State in the second round on Monday in Raleigh, N.C.
The Wolfpack (31-3) move on to the Sweet 16 in the Bridgeport Region as the No. 1 seed. The Wolfpack are heading to the Sweet 16 for the fourth straight season.
K-State (20-13) hit some milestones in 2021-22. The Wildcats won 20 games for the first time since the 2018-19 season and won their first NCAA Tournament game since 2017 when they beat Washington State on Saturday. The Wildcats also saw center Ayoka Lee earn All-America status and guards Serena Sundell and Brylee Glenn earn All-Big 12 Freshman Team honors. K-State improved 11 wins over last season.
None of that was enough on Monday against an NC State team that some believe has enough talent to win a national championship. Like their first meeting the Wolfpack ran away with this one. NC State beat Kansas State, 90-69, in the preseason NIT in November. That game was also in Raleigh.
Foul trouble hurt the Wildcats, as both Lee and Sundell ended up with two fouls early in the second quarter. Sundell had a hot shooting hand to start the game, so she only sat for a minute. She had 12 of K-State’s 27 points at the half. Lee, meanwhile, had eight points.
The bigger problem was that NC State didn’t struggle without All-American center Elissa Cunane, who played just three first-half minutes due to two fouls.
The Wolfpack shot 55 percent in the first half, outrebounded the Wildcats 19-10 and outscored them 26-14 in the second quarter, as they took a 43-27 lead at the break.
Cunane’s teammates more than picked up the slack. Raina Perez had 10 points by halftime, Kayla Jones had nine points and Camille Hobby had eight points. Hobby was Cunane’s replacement and she proved up to the task of squaring off with Lee.
In the second half, the Wolfpack kept rolling, and the Wildcats were never able to cut the lead to single digits. NC State shot nearly 60 percent for the game and connected on nine 3-pointers.
Sundell and Lee were the only Wildcats in double figures, as Sundell had 17 points, three rebounds and three assists. Lee had 12 points. Lee ended up in foul trouble in the second half but played through it and also had eight rebounds.
Jones led the Wolfpack with 18 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Perez had 15 points, six rebounds and four assists. Diamond Johnson had 15 points and she connected on five 3-pointers.
With a healthy lead, Cunane only played 14 minutes and scored four points, so she would appear to be well-rested for the Sweet 16.
You can find Matthew Postins on Twitter @PostinsPostcard.