TCU women top Kansas State to earn coach Jeff Mittie 300th win

02/19/2014 11:12 PM

11/12/2014 3:56 PM

After 300 wins at TCU for women’s basketball coach Jeff Mittie, one wouldn’t think there would be many firsts left.

But after the Horned Frogs’ 64-44 win over Kansas State on Wednesday, Mittie’s 300th victory as TCU head coach, his team gave him quite the surprise.

Wearing a gray suit and a bright pink vest and tie for TCU’s Frogs for the Cure breast cancer awareness game, Mittie entered the postgame press conference room drenched with water.

For the first time in his career, which spans 15 years at TCU, his team hit him with a celebratory water bottle shower — a close relative to the Gatorade bath.

But for Mittie, the celebration of TCU’s 15th win of the season (15-11, 6-8 Big 12) far surpassed the joy of his 300th in Fort Worth.

“They really got me good. That’s amazing,” Mittie said. “I’ve avoided that for 20 years. I wasn’t expecting that for the 15th win of the year,” Mittie said, tongue in cheek.

For all those outside Mittie’s pink vest and tie — which he said was going to be a full pink tux had he found one — the accomplishment truly resonated.

“What he’s done with TCU basketball is incredible,” TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte said. “Over the length of his career, he’s been phenomenal. For him to have his 300th win in his 15th year just tells you the consistency and the winner he’s built. Jeff Mittie is a winner.”

Mittie took down another 300-game winner in Kansas State’s Deb Patterson, who entered the game with a career record of 349-221, all for the Wildcats (10-15, 4-10).

“It’s extremely significant and a great milestone,” Patterson said. “It’s neat too that happened on [Frogs for the Cure] night with a great crowd and everybody really appreciative of not just the game but what Coach Mittie has done for the game and how he’s working day in and day out to build the fan base here as well.”

Ultimately, Mittie said, it comes down to the players on the court both past and present who have enabled him to reach the milestone.

Mittie did not speak much of the achievement to media or players before Wednesday, but his current players said they knew the significance of the win.

“We knew how much it meant to him even though he didn’t say much about it at all,” senior center Latricia Lovings said. “We wanted to get that for him. He really deserves it.”

The postgame celebration just began with Mittie. As soon as Mittie was drenched, the team turned the water bottles on junior guard Natalie Ventress.

Five minutes into the game, Ventress sank a 3-pointer that made her the 13th inductee into the TCU women’s basketball 1,000-point club. Ventress is the first to the milestone since Emily Carter did so during the 2010-11 season.

“I’ve been trying to get it for three games, but my game has been off,” Ventress said. “To come back home with my mom in the stands — I just really wanted to get it for her.”

Ventress finished with 15 points, one behind sophomore guard Zahna Medley’s game-high 16.

Twelve of the 13 1,000-point scorers played during Mittie’s 15-year tenure.

“I think for [Ventress] she’s been a consistent scorer for us from Day One stepping on campus,” Mittie said. “I liked her game tonight. She’s had a couple rough ones where she wasn’t finding the basket. I thought she had good pace to her game tonight.”

Both achievements come after a two-game road trip in which Lovings broke Sandora Irvin’s school record for most consecutive games with a blocked shot. Lovings extended her record to 65 games on Wednesday.

It was a special moment for both Lovings and Ventress, who developed their games side by side in Fort Worth from the time they were in middle school.

“It’s a blessing because we’re two little girls from Fort Worth who grew up playing basketball together, and we never thought we’d be breaking records at this level,” Lovings said. “It’s a blessing for us to do it side by side and to have our parents out in the crowd watching us do it.”

Ventress added: “We were definitely doing it for them.”

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