Don’t tell Brittany Chambers the sun is setting on her college career.
The Kansas State senior wouldn’t hear of it Thursday night, as she scored a school-record 42 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lift the Wildcats to a 72-44 rout of Texas Southern in the first round of the Women’s NIT at Bramlage Coliseum.
Chambers broke the single-game scoring record set by Kendra Wecker on Nov. 26, 2004 against Illinois State, connecting on one more field goal than Texas Southern had as a team.
“This is just absolutely right there near the top, if not the top,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said of Chambers’ record night. “At one point in the game, Shalee (Lehning) turned to me and said, ‘this has to be the best offensive game you’ve ever seen somebody at K-State play.’
“It’s got to be right up there with the very best ones, which I don’t remember, because this one was so good.”
Chambers was 15 of 25 from the field, including a career-high nine 3-pointers. By contrast, the Tigers made 14 of 51 shots. The three-time All-Big 12 selection scored a record 29 points in the first half alone — capped by a 3-pointer at the buzzer to help the Wildcats take a commanding 46-18 halftime lead.
From the start, Chambers knew she was in for a special night.
“I think I’m always aware of the points I have — I’m just one of those players,” said Chambers, who recorded the 14th double-double her career. “Just being honest, but I don’t think I get lost on the points really. But I didn’t realize I was getting that many in the first half until I looked up at the last shot.”
Chambers’ 42 points tied the WNIT record and the 10th-best scoring performance in Big 12 history. Her 690 points this season are the most in school history for a single season, surpassing Tammie Romstad’s 686 points during the 1979-80 season.
Texas Southern (20-12) sagged off Chambers some in the first half, looking unsure how to defend her from the start. The Jordan, Minn., native made the Tigers pay, burying 7 of 9 3-pointers in the first half, including a stretch of four straight at one point. Chambers also burned Texas Southern to the basket for layups, driving to both her right and left for easy buckets.
Chambers couldn’t be stopped. In the second half, she took advantage of the help defense and found teammates for easy layups under the basket, finishing with five assists. And then for good measure, Chambers stepped out and drained a 24-foot 3-pointer to give herself 40 points and the Wildcats a 66-32 lead with 8:37 remaining. She broke the record on a pair of free throws with 4:18 to play.
“It’s hard to guard Brittany because she can also break you down off the dribble, get you leaning back, she can lull you to sleep — she’s just deceptive,” Patterson said. “Do I guard the drive? Do I guard the step-back? Do I guard the 3? Is she going to blow by? That’s the difference in her and a lot of 3-point shooters — had a right hand, left hand — and while the 3 may a big part of her repertoire, so is her drive game.”
The Wildcats wasted no time jumping all over Texas Southern, taking a quick 13-0 lead to start the game. K-State (16-17) led 18-2 after the first of Chambers’ four straight 3-pointers. During a stretch of 6 minutes Chambers scored 14 of her team’s 17 points as the Wildcats took control 35-8 with 6:09 to go in the first half. She then scored the final 10 points of the first half.
K-State shot 43 percent from the field for the game and edged the Tigers 43-32 on the glass, while coming away with nine steals — five from Mariah White. Haley Texada added 12 points and five rebounds for the Wildcats, who advanced to host Illinois State on Monday night at 7.
The Wildcats’ quick start was exactly what Patterson was looking for, especially after a 12-day break since being eliminated in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals by Baylor.
“It was a long layoff, but we made that a priority and said, ‘lets take the floor and bring great energy from the get-go and the game will begin to take care of itself if you can do that,’” Patterson said. “We did that, and the aggressiveness Brittany brought from the very first shot helped establish confidence and a tempo that we could play with all night long.”