March 12, 2022
Big 12 Quarterfinal Friday recap from KC
Great matchups set the stage for Semifinal Saturday
If you’re looking for physical play and fast-paced basketball, the place to be was Municipal Auditorium in downtown Kansas City on Friday, March 11 for the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Tournament. Matchups that were battles during the regular season were again knock-down fights, giving us four teams who will advance to semifinal Saturday. Here’s a look at what happened:
No. 5 Seed Kansas vs. No. 4 Seed Oklahoma: In what was a rematch of their final regular season game on March 5, Kansas raced to a 13-3 lead in the first quarter. But as they have proven all year, Oklahoma is never out of a ballgame. The Sooners used balanced scoring and aggressive defense in the second quarter to lead 45-32 at half. They pounded the offensive glass and finished the game with 18 offensive rebounds, the most against a Big 12 opponent this season. Kansas could not overcome their scoring droughts and struggled to stop OU in the half court where they sliced the Jayhawk defense with backdoor cuts all day. With the 80-68-win, OU advances to the semifinals for the first time since 2016.
The Sooners were led by their first team All-Big 12 performers – Taylor Robertson (19 points) and fellow senior Madi Williams who had a fantastic stat line of 19 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Kansas had three players hit double figures on the afternoon with guard Zakiyah Franklin leading the way with 15 points.
The loss drops KU to 20-9 overall, but they will see their names on Selection Sunday for the first time since 2013. Where this loss drops the Jayhawks is still to be determined – a 10-seed and a 7/10 match-up may be a great landing spot for KU.
No. 9 Seed Oklahoma State vs. No. 1 Seed Baylor: In the first two regular season matchups, Baylor beat Oklahoma State by an average of 12.5 points. The regular-season Big 12 champions came out on fire in Municipal and never took their foot off the gas. Oklahoma State handled Texas Tech to reach the quarterfinals but had no answers for Baylor and were doomed by their artic-cold shooting. The Lady Bears held OSU scoreless in the first quarter (23-0) – the Cowgirls first points in the game came at the 9:40 mark of the second quarter. Baylor had a great day offensively, but it was their defensive performance that was more impressive. They held OSU to just 22.8% shooting on the day, forced 17 turnovers, scored 34 points in the paint and kept the pressure on the Cowgirl guards from the jump. With the 86-36 decisive win, head coach Nicki Collen could use her small but talented rotation in a lot of ways to get some extra rest for Big 12 Player of the Year NaLyssa Smith (15 points and 10 rebounds) and others ahead of the semifinals.
Oklahoma State’s season ends with a record of 8-19. This was the last game as head coach for Jim Littell, who will not return to the sidelines for the Cowgirls next season.
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No. 7 Seed West Virginia vs. No. 2 Iowa State: A 68-48 win over TCU in the opening round advanced West Virginia to the quarterfinals and a matchup with the No. 2 seeded Cyclones. Iowa State fans like to call Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City “Hilton South” and they delivered that home-court feeling against West Virginia for a 66-60 win. Iowa State outscored the Mountaineers 20-9 in the second quarter to lead 41-28 at half, but West Virginia battled back in the second half with defense and toughness in the half court. They forced 18 turnovers and made things difficult for all-American Ashley Joens, who recorded a double-double with 13 points and 14 rebounds. West Virginia went just 3-20 from 3-point range and despite a great effort from forward Esmery Martinez (18 points and 11 rebounds), the Cyclones were able to put them away down the stretch, with clutch plays by sophomores Emily Ryan and Lexi Donarski.
West Virginia finishes the 2021-22 season at 15-15, a far cry from their pre-season rankings in the Top 25. The Cyclones will have to rest and recover quickly as they will play the semifinal #2 Saturday afternoon in their second home, “Hilton South.”
No. 6 Kansas State vs. No. 3 Texas: If post-season tournaments prove anything it is that beating a team for the third time is tough, especially when there is still so much at stake. Texas beat K-State in both their meetings during the regular season, including a 62-51 win in Manhattan on Feb. 23. What plagued the Wildcats on many occasions this season got them again – a slow start against an opponent who is relentless for 40 minutes. Texas set the tone with their defense and never let up, putting K-State away for a 72-65 win. The Wildcats could not handle the Texas pressure in their first two meetings and the quarterfinal matchup was no different – 16 Wildcat turnovers converted into 19 Longhorn points helped create distance for Texas in the second half. They also got the balanced scoring they need to complement their defense, led by post Lauren Ebo with 17 points. Even though K-State shot 51% on the night, it was the stretches without scoring and miscues that hurt them late. All-American Ayoka Lee led the Wildcats with 16 points.
K-State falls to 19-12 and now awaits their fate on Selection Sunday. Texas will rest and recover quickly as well to face off with Iowa State in a vintage Big 12 Tournament battle.
Semifinal Saturday is set for two great match-ups – Oklahoma vs. Baylor and Texas vs. Iowa State. Get ready for another physical, knock-down drag out day of great Big 12 women’s basketball.
Written by Missy Heidrick
I am a former shooting guard at Kansas State and spent almost 20 years working in Higher Education and Division 1 athletics. I am currently a basketball analyst for television and radio, contributing correspondent at The Next, WBB Naismith Award board of selectors member and run my own consulting business. I am a proud mother of two and wife to a patient husband who is almost as big of a sports junkie as I am!