Cats focused on surviving and advancing

By Joshua Kinder

Kansas State won the game Monday night, but the Wildcats know they escaped on a night when they weren’t at their best.

After all, it’s not every night a team can shoot 22 percent from the field in the second half and make just 1 for 7 from the field with five turnovers in the final 7 minutes of a game and still win.

The Wildcats pulled out a 57-48 win over Illinois State, earning K-State a spot in the WNIT round of 16 against Ball State Thursday night at 7 from Bramlage Coliseum.

Ball State defeated Northern Iowa 53-48 on Monday and knocked off Minnesota 54-51 in the first round last week.

“We know they beat a great Minnesota basketball team at home, so we’re going to have to be at our best and be significantly better than we were (Monday),” K-State coach Deb Patterson said.

K-State (17-17) again relied on senior guard Brittany Chambers to carry the load against Illinois State — scoring 28 points — just four days after scoring a school-record 42 points in the Wildcats’ first-round victory over Texas Southern.

With the best two-game performance in school history, Chambers has never made it past the second round of the postseason — losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament the past two seasons. So, now in uncharted waters, Chambers said it is time put the fatigue aside and remain focused on surviving and advancing —  not easy for a team with just seven players.

“What you see in a lot of teams at this point are which teams are willing to fight through the fatigue and which teams are going to give in to it,” Chambers said. “It’s go-time or go-home time. I’m excited, but we need to come out the way we started the game and play for 40 minutes like that because if we don’t they’ll beat us.”

Ball State enters Thursday’s game 17-15 overall after going 12-4 in the Mid-American Conference. The Cardinals, who lost to Illinois State 71-56 on Jan. 13, feature two players who average double figures, led by 6-foot-2 freshman guard Nathalie Fontaine at 13.2 points and 6.5 rebounds per game. Junior guard Brady Woody averages 11.1 points a game, while sophomore guard Brittany Carter scores 9.9 points per game.

“They’re different in that they run a lot of motion, play fast and hard and move the ball and can be very effective within the framework of the screening,” Patterson said. “Illinois State tends to pound the ball the ball in more, rely a little on the perimeter, a little on the inside, stretch you in and out. They break you down off the dribble some, but you seem to see more predictable play.

“When you line up against Ball State, you’re looking at a team that plays the kind of motion they do, it’s really night and day.”

And while Ball State doesn’t come from a power conference like K-State, Chambers said there is no looking past the Cardinals this week.

“We don’t underestimate teams at all,” she said. “We aren’t good enough or have enough athleticism to be able to go onto the court and have an arrogance about us.

“We look at this Ball State team and know they could beat us. It could happen, if we don’t play our game.”

Thursday’s winner will play the winner of Toledo and Illinois on April 3-4 at an undetermined site.

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