By Wendell Barnhouse | email@example.com
DALLAS - Brittany Chambers was named the inaugural Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the Big 12 Conference. You would expect player majoring in pre-med to make heady plays. And that's what the senior guard did.
Chambers assisted on two consecutive baskets to help the Wildcats forge a tie and then scored the game-winner with a buzzer-beating layup as No. 8 seed Kansas State knocked off No. 9 seed Texas, 51-49.
The Wildcats advance to face top-ranked and No. 1 seed Baylor (29-1) at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in a quarterfinal game. The Lady Bears defeated K-State, 90-68, Monday in Waco. Baylor's Brittney Griner, who scored 45 in a quarterfinal victory over the Wildcats last season, surpassed that with 50 in the most recent meeting.
All the quarterfinal games and the remainder of the Championship will air on FSN.
Kansas State (15-16) called timeout with 10 seconds remaining and in possession of the ball in the front court. Chambers inbounded the ball, started to head for the 3-point line but read the defense and cut back door for the pass and the game-winner. Chambers said the play didn't unfold as it was designed.
The officials consulted the court-side monitor to confirm Chambers' shot was good. For Chambers, the time it took for the instant replay check was about as long as the ball bounced around the trim.
"The last play of the game, I for sure thought I missed it," she said. "It would have haunted me for the rest of my life. It felt like it was on that rim for ten minutes, it was terrible."
"They made two consecutive plays down the stretch that I thought just kind of caught us ball-watching, they went back door on us," Texas coach Karen Aston said. "I think personally a lot of (our players) were expecting a 3-point attempt."
Chambers is the first guard and the third Kansas State player to score 2,000 career points (she has 2,005). She also became the school record holder for most points in a senior season with 627. She has at least one more game to add to those totals.
Chambers, Haley Texada (who is from nearby Frisco, Texas) and Chantay Caron combined for 49 of the K-State's 51 points. Chambers recorded a game-high 20 points and tied White with nine rebounds. Texada scored 15 in the first half.
"We had talked this season about games where we only really competed tough-minded for 20 minutes," Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. "I feel like the last four games we have played, we have really bought into that 40-minute mentality, that teams are going to come at you, you have to stay tough-minded."
In splitting the regular-season series by trading 19-point victories, perhaps it was fitting for this game on the American Airlines Center court to come down to a final shot. Kansas State, which has just seven players in its rotation and no player taller than 5-11, prevailed by grinding for the full 40.
"It's so tougher to lose a game this way," said UT's Imani McGee-Stafford, the Big 12's freshman of the year who scored 15 points but missed 13 of 20 shots . There are so many things that run through your mind that you could have done personally to combat what happened."
Texas shot itself in the foot because it couldn't make point-blank shots. The Longhorns missed 19 layups, follows, drives or post ups. That contributed greatly to 33.8 percent shooting and bled over to the defensive end.
"Young players, sometimes they miss layups, point-blank shots, they get discouraged," Aston said. "We stopped playing play to play and that led to some transition baskets for K-State, especially in the first half."
The Wildcats have relied on the 3-pointer to offset their lack of height and depth. Against UT, they launched 30 and made 8. That gave K-State a 21-point edge as the Longhorns made just one 3-pointer in five attempts.
Kansas State was 10-of-19 on two-point baskets and had 15 assists on its 18 field goals ... including assists on its final three baskets as the Wildcats closed it out with an 11-4 run.