KANSAS CITY — Kansas State had hoped to play in this weekend’s NCAA regional in Kansas City, just 120 miles from campus and well within driving distance for the Wildcats’ loyal fan base.
Instead, the college careers of All-American forward Kendra Wecker and 3-point shooting star Laurie Koehn ended in Seattle, with a 63-60 loss to Vanderbilt in the second round. That continued a pattern of disappointment for the Wildcats, who have risen to national prominence in recent years but still haven’t cracked the Final Four.
And with the graduations of Wecker, Koehn and point guard Megan Mahoney — after that of two-time All-American center Nicole Ohlde a year earlier — coach Deb Patterson will face a rebuilding challenge next season in a Big 12 Conference that keeps getting tougher.
Wecker’s selection as a first-team All-American Wednesday gave the Wildcats two first-teamers in as many years and three first-team spots in a row (Ohlde was honored in 2003 and 2004).
Wecker, a 5-foot-11 forward, the Big 12 Player of the Year, averaged 21 points and 10.1 rebounds for Kansas State (24-8) despite missing three games with a sprained ankle early in the season.
She finished second in the voting to Louisiana State junior Seimone Augustus.
“It’s exciting and a great honor,” Wecker said in a statement. “It’s definitely a tribute to my teammates and the success we’ve had as a team throughout the year.”
Koehn also closed out her time at Kansas State with a solid senior season, averaging 12.4 points and breaking the NCAA 3-point record. The last of her three 3-pointers against Vanderbilt was the 392nd of her career, one more than the previous record set by Brigham Young’s Erin Thorn from 1999-2003.
But while perimeter play and Wecker’s slashing moves to the basket were strengths for Kansas State, the Wildcats missed Ohlde’s strong inside presence. None of their post players averaged more than senior center Brie Madden’s 5.9 points.
Still, Kansas State went 20-6 in the regular season and appeared to be gaining some momentum for the NCAA playoffs when the Wildcats came back from a 17-0 deficit to beat Texas in the semifinals of the Big 12 tournament. But in the tournament final, a 68-55 loss to Baylor, Mahoney fell chasing a loose ball and ruptured her left Achilles tendon.
That cost the Wildcats their floor leader and a scoring and passing threat who averaged 9.6 points and 3.5 assists.
AP ALL-AMERICANS: Seimone Augustus plays with dazzling skill, a crowd-pleasing flair and, according to her coach, plenty of smarts.
With that combination, it’s no wonder the LSU star was a unanimous All-American.
Augustus led the Associated Press women’s basketball All-America team. She was the only player picked for the first team by all 45 members of the national media panel that also votes in the weekly AP poll.
“People marvel at her mid-range jumper. I marvel at the fact she’s always wide open when the opposition has practiced all week (to stop her),” LSU coach Pokey Chatman said. “That’s because she’s cerebral. She understands what cuts to make and when to pick up the basketball.”
Augustus, a 6-foot-1 junior, received the maximum 225 points in the voting. Duke’s Monique Currie, Ohio State’s Jessica Davenport and TCU’s Sandora Irvin also made the first team.
LSU and Baylor were the only schools with two players on the three All-America teams.
Temeka Johnson, LSU’s feisty 5-3 point guard, was a second-team pick. Baylor had Sophia Young on the second team and Steffanie Blackmon on the third.