MANHATTAN — Peyton Williams had a little bit of extra motivation on Sunday for senior day against Kansas.
The Kansas State senior and Topeka native led the Wildcats with 24 points, 7 rebounds and 6 assists in an 83-63 victory over the Jayhawks in her final game in Bramlage Coliseum.
"It’s a great last game to have, and to beat them by 20 was even better," Williams said.
Williams was one of three K-State seniors honored after Sunday’s game, and is the only one that has spent her entire career in Manhattan. Jasauen Beard has been a Wildcat for two years after transferring from University of Texas-Rio Grand Valley, while Angela Harris transferred from Houston.
"I was thinking about (my four years) last night, and I was like, ’Man, I’m a completely different person,’ " Williams said. "It’s been such a privilege to be (here). They’ve had completely different experiences than I do.
"We all have experiences as a group, and to be here for four years was really a privilege to study under such good coaches, and to have such leaders before me to learn from has really affected me in all positive ways. I’ve changed so much, so I’ll just keep on going."
Multiple former teammates, including Shaelyn Martin and Kayla Goth, were texting Williams about how to enjoy those final 40 minutes on the home floor.
Williams did not miss a beat by making her first eight shots from the floor in a game that K-State never trailed, despite KU knotting things up at 14 after the first quarter.
The Wildcats began the second with a 10-0 run and never let KU pull within 10 points the remainder of the contest.
"I really came into it just treasuring the moment," Willliams said. "Even Coach (Jeff) Mittie was talking in a timeout with the guards, and I was just sitting there like, ’Man, I’m never going to hear him yell at the guards on our home floor again.’ "
Williams surpassed 1,500 points on Feb. 26 against Iowa State and has 1,551 heading into Friday’s Big 12 quarterfinal matchup with Iowa State.
Mittie said Williams has been consistent, even being a two-sport athlete for the K-State women’s basketball team and volleyball team.
"When you have a player like her who has the ability to have the awareness of what’s going on and what’s going on inside the locker room," Mittie said. "From a basketball side of things, she’s a weapon that is hard to guard. We can take her inside (and) outside.
"We can face her up. She’s an excellent passer. Her numbers today are through-the-roof good. She’s had a career like that."
Williams has also embraced a leadership role, as her teammates say that’s what they need in a leader and a teammate.
"The leadership that she brings to the team and also her drive, even when she has to check some people, it’s exactly what I feel like we needed this year," Beard said. "I feel like this year, Peyton has stepped up in that role, and done a tremendous job."
"I came from a team that really didn’t have a leader like that besides me," Harris said. "Just playing with someone like Peyton has been a breath of fresh air. Even Ayoka (Lee) has opened up a lot of driving lanes for me. I’m just so thankful to play with players of their caliber."
In addition to Williams, the redshirt freshman Lee recorded a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds. Beard and Harris each had 11 in their final game inside Bramlage Coliseum.
KU was led by Holly Kersgieter’s 21 points off the bench.
K-State will be the No. 5-seed in the Phillips 66 Big 12 Championship, where it’ll take on No. 4-seed Iowa State at 11 a.m. Friday at Municipal Auditorium in Kansas City, Mo.
KU is the No. 10 seed and will play No. 7-seed Texas Tech at 8:30 p.m. Thursday in a first-round matchup in Kansas City.