The Kansas State Wildcats women’s basketball team started off the year with a huge 68-59 upset over the tenth-ranked Baylor Bears, Jan. 2. The upset comes days after their former conference foe Missouri Tigers knocked off the top-ranked South Carolin Gamecocks.
“I think it’s a big one,” Kansas State head coach Jeff Mittie said. “Baylor has had such a hold on the league that you can do that stat with a lot. It’s kind of been the way. They’ve dominated the league, right. So this is a huge win against a program that has dominated this league over the last decade. So, from that perspective. Yeah, it’s a big one for us.”
Baylor was the preseason favorite to win the Big 12, after winning the last 11 regular-season conference championships. Kansas State’s win ends a 36-losing streak to the Bears, marking 18 years since the Wildcats have won in the series.
This was also Kansas State’s first win over a top-10 opponent since defeating tenth-ranked Texas Tech on Jan. 14, 2012.
Kansas State were definite underdogs, with less than 22% chance to win at home. Not only did they pull off the upset, but it was, unquestionable from the start. The Wildcats controlled most of the game, leading since a 3-2 score 1:07 into the game. After the first quarter, Kansas State led 18-7 behind 50% shooting from the field and 75% from three-point range. The Wildcats never looked back, once leading by 15 points.
Junior center Ayoka Lee led the Wildcats with a game-high 32 points, including 28 points in the second half. She also grabbed ten rebounds, marking her fourth game this season with 30 or more points and 10 or more rebounds.
“I think it’s a big win,” Lee said. “I think it just goes back to our team and trusting our preparation and then going out and executing.”
Ultimately, the Wildcats limited the Bears to shooting just 38% from the field and 30 % from three, their third-worst shooting performance this season. On the flip side, the Wildcats shot 51.1% from the field and 30.8% from the field. The Bears fell well short of the season averaged 75.6 points scored, while the Wildcats’ 25-ranked scoring defense averages 54.1 opponent points per game. This was Baylor’s season-low for points and the fewest points in a game since scoring 56 at Iowa State in 2020.
“I’d like to think we had something to do with them not shooting the ball well,” Mittie said. “I think that what I was pleased with was that the pace of the game was where we wanted it. They weren’t in transition, which we wanted to get them out of transition. And so we talked about getting them, they generally are in transition about 25% of the game. We wanted to get them below that number. I don’t know what the number says but my eyes tell me that we were able to do that pretty successfully and that’s what we wanted to do.”
The Wildcats move to 11-2 on the season, with a solid case for national ranking. They improve to 9-0 at home this season, tying the longest home-court winning streak in the Mittie era. Kansas State will start a two-game road trip by visiting the Oklahoma State Cowboys Jan. 5.