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Chambers nets 29 as Cats defeat Cowgirls

By Joshua Kinder

STILLWATER, Okla. — Brittany Chambers may wear No. 2 on her jersey, but clearly her number of choice is three.

The Kansas State junior connected on five 3-pointers and notched a double-double with a game-high 29 points and 10 rebounds Saturday to power the Wildcats past the Oklahoma State Cowgirls 67-56 at Gallagher-Iba Arena.

K-State’s third Big 12 road win also snapped a three-game losing streak that knocked the Wildcats out of the national polls a week after breaking in for the first time in three seasons.

The win didn’t come easy, though, as the Wildcats (14-6, 5-3 Big 12) had to hang on down the stretch after leading by as many as 26 points in the second half.

The Cowgirls, who shot just 30 percent from the field in the first half and somehow survived an 18-3 onslaught by K-State to open the second, pieced together a 21-3 run of their own to make it a six-point game with 1:20 to play.

Oklahoma State — led by Tiffany Bias’ 21 points — used four 3-pointers during the rally. K-State, meanwhile, relied on baskets from the foul line — making 12-of-17 in the final 6:44 — to keep the Cowgirls at bay and seal the victory. K-State’s last field goal came at the 9:21 mark when Brandy Brown got a put-back to push the Cats ahead 55-32.

“We’re thrilled to get a road win in the Big 12 and against a team that is playing extremely well and has a great deal of confidence that they’re competing with, even when they found themselves in a hole,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “It’s a team that won’t stop coming at you, but I’m glad to see our team answer the call when we needed to down the stretch — we continued to play hard.”

The win was especially sweet for Chambers after battling through recent offensive struggles that reached a boiling point Wednesday when she scored just six points in the Wildcats’ home loss to Iowa State.

“I quit running around like a chicken with its head cut, finally, and all the credit goes to my teammates,” said Chambers, who was 9-of-19 from the field, including 5-of-14 from behind the arc. “Brandy got me most of those 3s tonight — teammates getting me the ball perfect in my hand so they were easy shots. We just played really well today as a team.”

Chambers buried a trio of 3-pointers in the first half against the Cowgirls, including two that ignited a pair of big runs that gave the Wildcats an 11-point halftime lead. The first trey put K-State (14-6, 5-3) ahead one and started what swelled into a 9-0 run powered exclusively by the long ball after two more 3s from Tasha Dickey.

Then Chambers stepped back for a deep 3 with 5:16 remaining in the opening half to direct a 12-2 surge in which she scored 10 points and helped the Cats into the break ahead 35-24.

But lately, the first half hasn’t exactly been the Wildcats’ problem. It’s the second half, where K-State has struggled to hold the lead. And while the Cowgirls made it interesting down the stretch, Oklahoma State (12-5, 4-4) never got closer than six points after the Cats’ huge run to open the second half.

It was a run fueled by Chambers and Dickey, who combined to score 13 of the 18 points, including a pair of 3s from Chambers and one from Dickey, who finished with 15 points and eight rebounds.

Patterson was pleased with her team’s energy after the break, as K-State pushed the halftime lead to 53-27 with 12:08 to play, capped by a 3-pointer from Chantay Caron.

“We defended well early in the second half, but also on the offensive end, we kept our focus and kept the intensity we need in order to be competitive,” she said. “It was great to see that because we hadn’t done that in our last couple of losses.”

K-State shot 38 percent (20-of-52) from the field, 11-of-28 from behind the arc, and made 16-of-21 at the free throw line, as the Wildcats put together their most complete offensive game in some time.

“I thought we played really well together as a team,” said Chambers, who was 6-for-6 at the line. “We set screens well and instead of running around, we took our time to notice where each person was on the court and play off of each other.”

The Wildcats, who play at Texas on Wednesday, also dominated Oklahoma State 40-30 on the glass, which was a significant turnaround from numbers K-State posted during the losing skid.

“That was our focus all week and that’s part of being aggressive,” said Chambers, who has led the Wildcats in rebounding 10 times this season — including the last three games. “You’re not going to finish defense, if you’re not rebounding. And on the offensive boards, we’re not going to win shooting one shot and out. We tried to work on rebounding all week and today it showed as being the more aggressive team out there.”

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