Gipson leads Kansas State over Drexel, 68-44
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP)—Forward Marlies Gipson was a hammer inside and point guard Shalee Lehning was a security blanket everywhere else.
Gipson scored 18 points on 8-of-10 shooting, and Lehning matched a career high with 13 assists in fifth-seeded Kansas State’s 68-44 victory over No. 12 Drexel in the first round of the NCAA tournament Saturday night.
“Credit goes to my teammates,” Lehning said. “I just give them the ball and they’re the ones who have to do the hard work and knock it down.”
Ashley Sweat and Kari Kincaid each added 11 points for the Wildcats (25-7), who will play No. 4 Vanderbilt on Monday night. Earlier, the Commodores beat No. 13 Western Carolina 73-44.
The Dragons (24-9) saw their 16-game winning streak end and Gabriela Marginean, the nation’s No. 3 scorer with a 23.6 average, was never a factor. She was whistled for two fouls in the first 4 minutes and didn’t return until halftime.
Marginean finished with 15 points, all in the second half, on 6-of-15 shooting. Still, Drexel coach Denise Dillon wasn’t too concerned at the break because she felt her team could overcome a 26-19 halftime deficit.
“I felt OK about it,” Dillon said.
Lehning had eight assists by halftime and the Wildcats were warming up. Kincaid made two 3-pointers and beat the shot clock with a banked jumper as the Wildcats began the second half on a 17-4 run.
After a timeout, Sweat made a layup, Danielle Zanotti hit a 3-pointer and Gipson tipped in a missed shot, lifting Kansas State to a more-than-safe 43-23 lead with 12:34 remaining.
“At the end of the first half the tempo wasn’t good for us. We needed to be more aggressive,” Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. “This group has a good basketball IQ. When they need to change the game, they can.”
When Lehning briefly went to the bench for a break, the Dragons took advantage by going to a fullcourt trap. Marginean scored twice and Tyler Hale had a three-point play as Drexel cut the margin to 46-31 with 10:49 to go.
But Lehning returned to run the show for the Wildcats.
She found Zanotti for a 3-pointer and distributed another assist underneath to Sweat, who drew a foul and made two free throws for a 51-33 advantage with 8:44 remaining.
“The lanes were just open and my teammates did a great job of knocking down the shots,” Lehning said. “You just have to see what the defense is giving you. Tonight it was more for me to pass the ball.”
Patterson said it was a typical effort by Lehning.
“She’s the one who makes this team run,” Patterson said. “She’s a tremendous talent. We saw that tonight. When she came out we struggled a little bit.”
Jasmina Rosseel scored 13 for the Dragons, making their NCAA tournament debut. Drexel will have to be happy about winning the Colonial Athletic Association and setting a school record for wins.
“It’s a disappointing loss, not how we wanted to end the season,” Dillon said. “But as I said to the girls in the locker room, I didn’t feel we beat ourselves. Kansas State is an outstanding basketball team.”
It was a tough night for Marginean, who sat with a towel wrapped around her neck through most of the first half. She came off the floor with just over a minute to play and buried her face in her hands.
“I was disappointed in myself,” Marginean said. “But I knew my team, the girls, would do the best they can and work hard. I’ve been in foul trouble before. It was hard. They are a good team. They shot well. We struggled.”