MANHATTAN This wasn’t the postseason tournament she hoped for, but now that Brittany Chambers has led Kansas State to two victories in the WNIT it’s obvious she is having fun.
The senior guard scored 28 points during a 57-48 win over Illinois State on Monday in front of 1,203 fans at Bramlage Coliseum, less than a week after erupting for a career-high 42 points against Texas Southern. The combined total of 70 points is the most scored by a K-State player in back-to-back games.
She made 10 of 22 shots, including three from beyond the arc, to go along with eight rebounds and four assists.
“I feel comfortable right now,” Chambers said. “I think it goes back to our schedule. We play the best teams every night and play the best defenders every night so when we come into playing an Illinois State team – no disrespect to them, they are a great team – it gives you a lot of confidence.… You have faced the best already. So whatever they throw at you, you are ready for.”
Chambers was ready from the opening tip. By scoring 21 points before halftime, she enabled K-State to take a 36-23 lead into the locker room and hold off a late comeback bid from the Redbirds.
No one other than Chambers shot the ball well. Haley Texada was the only other K-State player to finish in double figures, scoring 13 points. Illinois State’s Janae Smith hurt the Wildcats with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Still, they did enough to advance to the tournament’s third round, where they will play host to Ball State at 7 p.m. on Thursday.
“It was a very ugly game for us offensively,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “You look at our assists numbers, they are poor. It was just one of those struggles to get on track.”
The Wildcats will hope for more in their next game. After bowing out of the NCAA Tournament early in each of the past two seasons, they are excited about the prospect of a lengthy postseason run.
Just in case they needed more motivation: Their latest victory evened their record at 17-17. They can avoid a losing season with another win and clinch a winning record with two.
“That would feel great,” Chambers said. “We have one of the toughest schedules in the country, so we never looked at our record as a representative of what we thought we could be. We played unbelievable teams every night. It feels great to be back at 17-17. I think that players could underestimate us based on our record, which would be their mistake.”
Illinois State – Smith 8-14 3-4 19, Puni 4-5 0-0 8, 1-3 0-0 2, Foley 1-8 0-0 3, Russell 2-13 0-0 4, Sykes 3-8 1-2 10, Nelson 0-0 0-1 0, Winge 0-3 0-0 0, Oliver 1-1 0-0 2, Crump 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-56 4-7 48.
Kansas State – Caron 2-5 2-2 8, Texada 4-18 1-2 13, Chambers 10-22 5-5 28, Craig 1-9 0-0 3, White 0-4 0-0 0, Brown 2-4 0-0 5, Spresser 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 19-63 8-9 57.
Halftime — Kansas State 36, Illinois State 23. 3s — ISU 4-19 (Sykes 3-8, Foley 1-6, Jenkins 0-1, Winge 0-3), KSU 11-36 (Texada 4-14, Chambers 3-7, Caron 2-3, Craig 1-7, Brown 1-2, White 0—2, Spresser 0-1). Rebounds — ISU 35 (8-Smith, Puni, Russell), KSU 45 (8-Caron, Chambers). Assists — ISU 18 (Russell 5), KSU 11 (White 5). Fouls — ISU 11, KSU 8. A. — 1,203.