Until Wednesday night, many might not have even Heidi Brown’s her name, and most still wouldn’t be able to pick her out of a crowd today.
But all that’s about to change for the Kansas State sophomore, who burst onto the scene in the Wildcats’ 76-70 overtime victory against No. 12 Oklahoma State on Wednesday.
The 5-foot-11 guard from Plains scored a career-high 10 points off the bench in the win, including a clutch 3-pointer in OT.
“In addition to that score, it ignited us to a whole other level,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “It was a big-time shot and so neat to see someone who works so hard step up with the confidence and the disposition of doing whatever she could to help her team.”
Brown, who was a Class 3A all-state selection from Southwest Heights, was also fouled after grabbing a key rebound in overtime. She went to the line with 23 seconds to play and made both shots to put the game out of reach. Brown was only 1 for 3 on the year from the free-throw line.
“I was happy when Heidi was going to the foul line,” Patterson said. “I was like, ‘Oh, Heidi is at the foul line. This is good.’ You’re not worried when Heidi goes to the foul line. And that rebound…”
Brown, who was also a state champion javelin thrower in high school, played sparingly as a freshman, averaging three minutes in five games. She scored no points last season on three attempts and grabbed two rebounds.
Now, the former walk-on is getting her chance after Ashia Woods and Ashlynn Knoll went down with season-ending injuries during Monday’s practice and Chantay Caron left Wednesday’s game after falling hard while trying to take a charge. Brown is now K-State’s tallest player remaining on an active roster that sits at only six healthy players for the foreseeable future.
“I wanted to do whatever I could for my team,” said Brown, who was 3 for 5 from the field and 2 for 3 from behind the arc with three rebounds. “We had two players go down this week and I knew I had to step up, whether it was playing post or playing wing, guarding their tallest person or shortest person. I wanted to help out any way I could.”
She did just that, but it came as no surprise to senior guard Brittany Chambers, who will lead the Wildcats (12-7, 3-4) into Austin to play the Texas Longhorns (7-11, 0-7) on Saturday at 1 p.m. looking for their third straight win.
“Heidi is in the gym more than anyone — period,” said Chambers, who needs just 59 points to move into third all-time on K-State’s career scoring list. “This summer she put up more shots than anybody. Anytime she goes in the game, you see our team get really loud for her because she’s that kind player you want to see excel and want to see go.”
Brown, who averaged more than 19 points a game her senior year at Southwestern Heights, can be used inside and out for the outmanned and undersized Wildcats. She’ll have to be at this point, as K-State tries to go with only bench player in 5-5 guard Kendra Spresser for the time being.
“She has all the potential in the world and the big thing with her was confidence,” Chambers said. “You’re starting to see it creep back into her play. She has a great shot, she works hard and she boxes out. It was great to se her put it all together (Wednesday).”