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Colorado uses strong second half to take down Kansas State

MANHATTAN, Kan. (AP) — Tameiya Sadler scored all 10 of her points in the second half to lead a balanced scoring attack and No. 5 seed Colorado beat four-seed Kansas State 63-50 on Sunday to advance to the Sweet 16.

The Buffaloes (24-9) will face the winner of Monday's game between No. 1 seed Iowa and No. 8 seed West Virginia Saturday in Albany, N.Y.

This was the first home sellout for Kansas State since they hosted No. 1 UConn on Dec. 11, 2016.

The atmosphere impressed Colorado coach JR Payne.

“The environment was incredible, shout out to Manhattan, Kansas,” she said. “The entire community has welcomed us this week. That’s a great basketball environment.

"But we love that environment. We love being the underdog. We kind of thrive in that role.”

Colorado, which had six players with nine or more points, used an 11-2 run in the third quarter to grab its largest lead of the game at 48-41. The Buffaloes outscored K-State 19-7 in the third quarter to take a 52-42 lead into the fourth quarter.

No Buffaloes player scored more than 11, something that Payne said reflects her team's unselfishness.

“One of the best things about our team is that nobody really cares who gets to shine,” she said. “We don’t have a single five-star recruit. We don’t have a single McDonald’s All-American. But we have a group of young women that are willing to fight and compete every day that they take the floor. That leads to a group that really wants to see each other succeed.”

The Wildcats (26-8) had multiple chances to trim the deficit to three in the fourth quarter, but couldn't get the shots to fall.

“It’s disappointing to lose when you don’t play very well and you don’t feel like you did things as well as you could have,” K-State coach Jeff Mittie said. “The game presents its challenges and there were moments that we didn’t handle those things very well. Credit goes to Colorado. They did a lot of things that gave us problems all day long.”

Gabby Gregory scored 12 points to lead Kansas State. Ayoka Lee added 10 points, 11 rebounds and six blocks.

Gregory, who implored the K-State community all weekend to show up, was pleased with the crowd but was disappointed to end her career with a loss.

“I wasn’t expecting to be done so early,” she said. “Right now, I’m just so upset that we’re not moving on. The magnitude of my basketball career being over in college, it really hasn’t hit me yet.

"If that’s my last game here, that’s a pretty good crowd to go out on. I’m just really thankful to the fans.”

Neither team could grab control in the first half. The first quarter ended with the score tied at 14. Kansas State used an 8-0 run early in the second quarter to open a 22-15 advantage, the largest by either team to that point.

Serena Sundell hit a 3-pointer later in the quarter and sank an accompanying free throw to give K-State a 33-24 lead. But Colorado responded with a 9-0 run to tie the game at 33-33.

THE TAKEAWAY

Colorado: The Buffaloes were not intimidated by the partisan crowd. Every time K-State grabbed the momentum and the crowd got louder, the Buffs responded.

Kansas State: The Wildcats will be totally different next year without Lee, who anchors the middle on offense and defense. With 13 assists, K-State set a school record for assists in a season with (631). And with eight blocks, the Wildcats established a school record for blocks in a season 178.

UP NEXT

Colorado: The Buffaloes will go to Albany to play the winner of Monday's game between No. 1 seed Iowa and No. 8 West Virginia.

Kansas State: The Wildcats are done for the season.

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AP March Madness bracket: https://apnews.com/hub/ncaa-womens-bracket/ and coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness