Kansas State was leading by only three points and Brittany Chambers could only lay claim to six points at halftime of the Wildcats’ regular season opener on Friday night.
That all changed in the second half.
The Wildcats’ lone senior starter put her team on her back and scored 16 of her game-high 22 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead K-State to a 62-54 win over Idaho State at Bramlage Coliseum.
Chambers finished 5-of-8 from behind the arc — including 3-of-4 in the second half. She grabbed eight rebounds alone and missed only one shot from the field in the second half.
“In the first two exhibition games, I didn’t hit as much as I wanted,” said Chambers, who played 39 minutes. “But that comes with getting the feel of the game, getting back into it, understanding where shots are going to come from.”
It was Chambers’ eighth double-double of her career and the 20th time the Jordan, Minn., native scored at least 20 points.
Chambers was a little quiet in the first half and so were the Wildcats, at least during a crucial six-minute drought that allowed the visiting Bengals to keep the game close.
Good thing it was the second half that defined this game.
Much like their exhibition against Washburn last Monday when the Wildcats opened the second half on a 19-2 run, K-State showed up ready for another quick start in the second half.
The Wildcats, who shot 41 percent from the field, opened the second half with 10 straight points and held Idaho State scoreless for the first four minutes of the half.
“I do like the adjustments that this team is making after the first 20 minutes,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “We’re coming back onto the floor willing to change areas where we might have seen deficiencies, and we’re giving great attention to that and great energy to it.
“That’s been impressive to me the last two games.”
Ashleigh Vella had a team-high 12 points and eight rebounds for the Bengals, who were 24-8 a year ago and shot 34 percent from the field on Friday.
K-State got big games from sophomores Haley Texada and Ashia Woods. Texada, who played for the first time after serving a two-game restriction for an NCAA violation, scored a career-high 11 points off the bench, including a pair of 3-pointers. Senior Mariah White is still serving a suspension during a portion of the nonconference slate.
At one point in the first half, Texada scored six straight points in a two-minute span.
“It was a very, very strong first game for Haley,” Patterson said. “I think she’s just another element that’s going to give us a chance to continue to be aggressive on the dribble. I think she’ll find her way to the rim a great deal this season, and she can shoot the 3s.”
Woods was just two points shy of a double-double — collecting a game-high 13 rebounds and finishing with eight points, to go along with her five steals.
“In practice, we’ve been doing a great deal of defense,” Woods said. “Coach P holds us more accountable in practice, so I think it just carried over to the game.”
Patterson will gladly take this win for her Wildcats, who host Arkansas-Pine Bluff today at 2 p.m.
“That’s a team that competed in the NCAA tournament a year ago and were champions of the Big Sky Conference,” Patterson said. “It was a great matchup for our basketball team that is just beginning to find its step and understand who we are and how we want to play. I’m very proud of our ability to get that win.”
Today’s test may look more like an exhibition game, however, as the Wildcats play host to an Arkansas-Pine Bluff squad that was 1-24 a year ago.
With its young roster, though, K-State has to try and take advantage of every minute on the court right now — no matter the opponent.
“It gave us an opportunity to really learn, because we do have such a young team out there,” Chambers said about their win over Idaho State. “Every game that we get more and more experience is going to help us.”