The addage says, 'It's not how you start it's how you finish." Problem was, the way K-State started their NCAA game against La Salle, it was hard to come back.
K-State trailed by 18 points at halftime, put together a furious second half rally but ultimately fell to La Salle, 63-61. Wildcat's end their season at 27-8.
"We knew how dangerous they were - you have to give them credit," Angel Rodridguez said after the game. "They won the game."
Rodgriguez took the final shot for K-State that would have tied the game and sent it to overtime. Bruce Weber decided not to call timeout until 1.5 seconds left when Rodriguez was attempting an awkward shot. Weber was seen on camera attempting to call timeout but to no avail from the officials.
"Coach said he was trying to call timeout. I tried to see an open shot and get up a good shot," Rodriguez added. "They played good defense on us on that last possession."
Down 44-26 at halftime, Jordan Henriquez put together his best game of the season in the second half and outscored La Salle 35-19 before falling by a bucket. Henriquez finished his K-State career with a double-double, 13 rebounds and 17 points. Rodney MCGruder had 17 as well.
K-State had never come back from that large of a deficit this season, chances did not look good for the Wildcats in the second half. They began clearing the lane, driving to the hoop and giving the ball to Henriquez. La Salle looked confused and lost at times, and when K-State took their first lead of the game up 58-57, it looked like all was right with the team. Looked like.
La Salle converted their free throws down the line and K-State did not. Wildcats' were nine of 17 from the line while La Salle was 14 of 16. Explorers only made three baskets in the second half. Most of their points came from the foul line.
"In my head I was thinking to myself that we need to get this thing to five, six or seven but we didn't," said Shane Southwell. "They made a lot of free throws."
The disappointing loss was made more saddening knowing that the three seniors; McGruder, Henriquez and Martavious Irving would never play in a K-State uniform again.
"It's the worst feeling in the world - it's the last time I will play a game in K-State uniform," McGruder said following. "It's the last time I'll be on a team with some of my teammates and it just hurts to go out the way we did."
K-State had a very good shot to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. Ole Miss upset Wisconsin in the game prior and if they could take care of their business then it would have been smoother sailing than predicted.
Wildcats came from a team many thought wouldn't amount to much to a team winning a share of the Big 12 regular season title and on the brink of a deep run. Those plans were halted Friday.