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Kansas State Collegian

Kansas State Collegian

The independent student news publication at Kansas State University

Kansas State Collegian

Wildcats land round of 64 win despite turbulence from Portland Pilots

K-State opens Manhattan March Madness with 78-65 win as Lee-Gregory-Sundell score 59 combined
Avery Johnson
Ball in hand, guard Gabby Gregory turns away from the basket against Portland in K-State’s 78-65 round of 64 victory over the Pilots. Gregory led scoring with a season-high 22 points.

Thanks to a fiery strong start in Bramlage Coliseum, No. 4 seed Kansas State women’s basketball held off No. 13 seed Portland in a 78-65 win. The Wildcats’ star trio of center Ayoka Lee and guards Gabby Gregory and Serena Sundell led the way, scoring 59 points combined with Lee adding nine rebounds and Sundell nine assists. Gregory led the way scoring with 22 points, a season-high for the senior.

“We need a game like this,” head coach Jeff Mittie said. “Portland, certainly we couldn’t run away from them. Each time we extended it out, they made plays.”

K-State began the first quarter with a Lee layup and took off from there. Led by Sundell scoring nine of her 16 points in the first quarter, the Wildcats ended the first 10 minutes of play with a 25-10 lead.

All signs after the first quarter were that the Wildcats were 25% through with a blowout win. Those signs were wrong.

The Pilots and its press defense never faltered, never going down more than 20. A five-point Portland burst at the end of the first half brought the score to 40-28 after K-State committed five of its 14 turnovers in the quarter.

Joining the turnovers was a combined 46 personal fouls in the game. Mittie said the press and the fouls never allowed K-State to find the same rhythm as in the first quarter.

Portland’s physical play alongside its press continued causing troubles in the second half. The lead was shortened to as much as eight. With their backs against the walls, the Wildcats leaned on their two seniors to bring home the win.

In the second half, Lee and Gregroy scored 27 combined points, with Lee scoring 11 in the third and Gregory knocking in 10 in the fourth.

“Just shooting the ball and it was going in,” Gregory said. “That’s all there really is to it. … Just try to be as confident as I can be, and when it’s my turn, just step up and knock it down.”

Playing in front of a near sold out crowd, K-State gained support during some big plays, helping to push away Portland.

“As teammates you want to pull one another up … and I think the crowd just adds to that,” Lee said. “So many plays, like Zy hitting the mid range, Gabby hitting the 3 you just hear the crowd goes crazy.”

K-State moves to the round of 32 to face off against the winner of Colorado and Drake on Sunday at a time yet to be determined.

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About the Contributors
Luke Lazarczyk
Luke Lazarczyk, sports writer
Sports editor for 2023-24. Previously sports editor for 2022-23 and writer for 2021-22.
Avery Johnson
Avery Johnson, multimedia editor
Multimedia editor for 2023-24. Previously photographer for spring 2023.
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