Late Gregory Free Throw Secures K-State Upset of (4/6) Iowa

MANHATTAN, Kansas (Kansas State Athletics) – Despite trailing by seven points midway through the fourth quarter, Kansas State battled back to outscore (4/6) Iowa, 15-7 in the final five and a half minutes, to collect the 84-83 upset of the Hawkeyes at Bramlage Coliseum on Thursday night.

The win was K-State’s fifth victory over an Associated Press (AP) top-5 opponent in its history and its highest ranked win since downing fourth-ranked Iowa State in Ames, Iowa, on Jan. 2, 2002. This was the second time in two seasons K-State has defeated an AP top-10 opponent in Bramlage, as the Wildcats picked off tenth-ranked Baylor to begin Big 12 action last season.

HOW IT HAPPENED
– With K-State trailing by three, 81-78, with 2:13 remaining in the fourth quarter, Gabby Gregory went to work at the free throw line. She went 6-of-8 from the foul line to close out the game. She gave K-State a brief lead at 82-81 with 1:09 left, but a layup from Iowa’s Monika Czinano with 51 seconds left put the Hawkeyes back in the lead, 83-82.
– Gregory, who ended the night with 24 points including a 12-of-14 effort from the free throw line, made 1-of-2 with 38 seconds to play to tie the game at 83. On Iowa’s next offensive possession, Jaelyn Glenn tied up Kate Martin in front of the Hawkeye bench to give K-State the ball with 8.5 seconds left as the possession arrow favored the ‘Cats.
– After a K-State timeout to advance the ball, Gregory was fouled on a post up with 3.7 seconds to play and made 1-of-2 free throws to give K-State the 84-83 lead. After an Iowa timeout to advance the ball, the ensuing offensive play and shot did not beat the buzzer as the ball was in Czinano’s hand as the buzzer sounded.
– K-State finished the night shooting 41.2 percent (28-of-68) from the field including 30.6 percent (11-of-36) from 3-point range and 81.0 percent (17-of-21) from the free throw line. Iowa tallied a 49.1 percent (27-of-55) effort but were held to 30.0 percent (6-of-20) from 3-point range. The Hawkeyes ended the night shooting 82.1 percent (23-of-28) from the foul line.
– The Wildcat comeback started with 5:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, as Iowa’s Caitlin Clark made her 12th and 13th free throws of the night to tie the Bramlage Coliseum record for free throws made by an opponent and put the Hawkeyes in front, 76-69.
– Sophomore guard Serena Sundell started K-State’s rally with a pair of free throws and followed with a layup to cut the deficit to three, 76-73, with 5:06 to play. Sundell ended the night with 24 points, six rebounds, five assists, two steals and a block.
– After an Iowa layup, graduate transfer Sarah Shematsi connected on her career-best sixth 3-pointer of the night to bring the Wildcats back to within two, 78-76, and was followed by a steal and layup from Jaelyn Glenn to tie the game at 78 with three minutes remaining. Shematsi completed the night with a career-high 18 points and just her third career game in double figures.
– Clark, who finished the night with a game-high 27 points, buried a 3-pointer with 2:41 to play to give Iowa an 81-78 lead.

QUICK FACTS
– K-State leads the series with Iowa, 5-1.
– Iowa, ranked fourth in the Associated Press top-25, was the highest ranked non-conference opponent to play in Bramlage Coliseum since top-ranked Connecticut on Dec. 11, 2016.
– Kansas State improves to 74-60 all-time against current members of the Big Ten Conference.
– Thursday’s starting five was Serena Sundell, Jaelyn Glenn, Gabby Gregory, Rebekah Dallinger and Taylor Lauterbach. This was the first time this group started a game together.
– K-State ended the night with 11 connections from beyond the arc. This marks the first time since Nov. 19 & Nov. 23, 2021, to tally consecutive games with 10 or more connections, as the Wildcats had 10 made 3-pointers against Wisconsin on Nov. 11.
– Gabby Gregory tallied her 44th career game in double figures and her third at K-State. This was Gregory’s 10th career game with 20 or more points.
– Gregory’s 12 made free throws and 14 attempts established new career-highs for the product of Tulsa, Oklahoma. Gregory’s 12 made free throws and 14 attempts are the most by a Wildcat since Ayoka Lee was 15-of-17 from the foul line against Oklahoma on Jan. 23, 2022.
– Serena Sundell notched her 21st career game in double figures. Her 24 points were her most since notching 24 at Oklahoma on Feb. 26, 2022.
– With her five assists on Thursday night, Sundell moved into 32nd on the K-State career assists list with 193. Sundell owns 21 career games with five or more assists.
– Sarah Shematsi recorded her third career game in double figures and her first at K-State. Her six connections from 3-point range, a new career-high, were the most by a Wildcat since Jaelyn Glenn made six at West Virginia on Jan. 8, 2022.

FROM THE HEAD COACHES
K-State Head Coach Jeff Mittie

Opening Statement…
“Well, it was a hell of a game, hell of a game. I thought really for 40 minutes, we trailed obviously a good portion of that, but never felt like we weren’t right there, never felt like we weren’t right there to make a push and never felt like we weren’t battling. I think the part that we needed to answer was when we got down I think it was 76-69 and I thought Serena [Sundell] made big plays. I thought Sarah Shematsi hit big shots. Gabby [Gregory] at the end really willed us to the free throw line and was playing so tough and aggressive. Made plays defensively. Jay [Jaelyn Glenn] made some plays defensively. You know, you don’t win a game like this where you don’t have a lot of plays. You’re not going to back your way into beating a top-five team in the country and we certainly didn’t and we had to make plays.”

On if he recognized that the team was playing at a different level…
“I’ll tell you what I saw. I saw a different urgency out of our group in communication. I’ll give you an example. I was gonna call an out of bounds play. We had a little lull and Serena had gathered everybody together and she had called her play and it was a great idea by her to post up. Now she smoked the layup. At that point I thought ‘wow they were really engaged to what they need to be doing.’ We’re getting closer, I think to really connect with each other. In those stretches, like for example, there were stretches tonight where we needed to get Shematsi at least a look at three and everybody was on the same page of what we’re trying to accomplish. That has started to come together this last week and so we’re learning each other better. Gabby in the post, we want to do that more, we’re kind of learning that. So all of that starting to come together better.”

On denying Caitlin Clark open looks down the stretch…
“That was a little bit of adjustment the last four minutes. She [Caitlin] gets rid of it, okay, we’re gonna deny her and everybody’s got to be ready for her to go back door. She was going backdoor, setting cross screens with [Monika] Czinano that was giving us a little bit of trouble but all in all, they’re impossible to stop for 40 minutes. You’re picking your spots, and I thought our group really played well in the final five minutes.”

On how big this win is…
“I told them you get opportunities during the season to be involved in some great games and you hope that you’re involved in them and if you win them they’re more special. There are games across the country that are looked at as some of the best games. And I think this will go down as one of the better early season games in the non-con. And in my career, we’ve certainly played a lot of top-fives but when we beat them, it’s special. You need to enjoy it now. They’ll get to enjoy tonight till midnight, we play tomorrow. They’re kind of wasting time with you guys right now, not really wasting time but they’ve got about 71 minutes left or whatever it is. We’ve got a quick turnaround. I will say you don’t want to ruin it because we need to have momentum. But it’s a special win, it’s special to be at home. We’re off to a good start. We came from behind up in Wisconsin. We did it again tonight. That’s a good DNA to have, that you have the ability to come from behind. We’ve got to keep getting better, but they’ll remember this game and their career. Gabby Gregory will remember this game as when she stepped up and answered when it was tougher and she’ll have more opportunities. Serena will remember in the fourth quarter when she was making plays. Probably more importantly is they’ll remember the teammates they did it with because you don’t get these kinds of opportunities very often. So it’s a special win and we’ve got short turnaround to get ready for tomorrow.”

Iowa Head Coach Lisa Bluder
Opening Statement…
“It was a great game down to the wire. Sarah [Shematsi] hitting all those threes, I think she’d hit one on the year and she goes six for 10 from three-point range tonight. That was a difference maker and then Gabby Gregory drawing 13 fouls is just an amazing number. She kept going to the free throw line, kept going to the free throw line and that was I think the difference in the game right there, those two statistics.”

On why the team couldn’t pull away after getting the lead…
“We had some untimely turnovers that resulted in points. They got 22 points off of our turnovers, they made us pay for turnovers. We had some good leads out there and we just didn’t finish. We made some panic passes and Kansas State’s tall, they’re long, but we’re going to be playing against other long teams as well.”

On the pressure of being a top-five team…
“Once the ball goes up you don’t even think about that stuff. What I do know is you have a target on your back for everybody else. Everybody needs those wins, you need your top-25 wins. We’re gonna get everybody’s best shot and we better get used to it. I don’t feel like we had the pressure but I think they were really excited to play us. We’ve got to start understanding that we’re marked and we are going to have to bring that kind of emotion to every single game.”

FROM THE FLOOR
K-State Sophomore Guard Serena Sundell

On jumpstarting the offense…
“I wanted to be aggressive in this game and that’s kind of the mindset I had coming in. So right away I saw opportunities. I saw that I had height and size over my defender and found gaps. That was working and that’s just what I was going with.”

On her emotions during the final review…
“For me, I was nervous but I was pretty confident that she didn’t get that shot up in time. I was asking everyone around me like, ‘What do you think? What do you think?’ But I was excited because I had a feeling we just won that game and he was telling us what to do once we win trying to speak it into existence. Yeah I was nervous, excited, a lot of emotions. Just trying to enjoy it.”

K-State Senior Guard Gabby Gregory
On the mental aspect of being down in a game… 
“Honestly, no matter how many points we were down I never felt like we were out of the game at all. I never felt like there was a big gap or anything. Every moment of the game it felt like we were right there right in it. So not a big deal at all. I didn’t even realize we were down by 12.”

On her feelings at the free-throw line during the last seconds of the game…
“I was so nervous, to be honest, yeah I was nervous. The first free throw to go ahead and go in, it was kind of like an out of body experience. Like my whole body was numb. And then the second one, I just smoked it but definitely it was a very nervous situation. But that’s why I practice to try to get in those situations but being in the situation. That’s my first time ever being in a situation like that, they’re number 4 in the country. So yeah, I was nervous for sure.”

UP NEXT
K-State continues its three-game home stand on Friday night against UTRGV at 6:30 p.m. For tickets, call (800) 221-CATS or visit kstatesports.com. Friday’s game will air on Big 12 Now on ESPN+.

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