Chambers saving her best for last

By Joshua Kinder

Five numbers of the best players in Kansas State women’s basketball history hang in the rafters of Bramlage Coliseum and none of those players ever accomplished what Brittany Chambers is doing right now for the Wildcats.

The senior guard is playing some of the best basketball in the country for the Wildcats, who host Utah in a WNIT semifinal Wednesday night at 7. Going back to Feb. 26, Chambers has scored at least 20 points in nine straight games. That hot streak includes a school-record 42 points in the Wildcats’ win over Texas Southern in the first round of the WNIT, eclipsing a mark set by Kendra Wecker in 2004.

“The scoring records she’s breaking right now, I mean, who in the world thought somebody would come to K-State and break a scoring record Kendra Wecker set?” Wildcats’ coach Deb Patterson said.

Chambers is third in school history with 2,140 career points — trailing only Nicole Ohlde and Wecker — and second in school and Big 12 history with 349 3-pointers, second only to Laurie Koehn.

But none of those Wildcat greats ever had a streak like the one Chambers is on right now.

“She’s been the most consistent player, with respect to being able to contribute at a high level, produce at a high level game in, game in, game in for a long sustained period of time,” Patterson said. “I’ve not coached another player who could do that at that level without some serious comedowns, so to speak.

“And everybody who plays her, all they do is prepare for her. There are no secrets here.”

The Jordan, Minn., native finished second in the Big 12 in scoring this season, behind only Baylor’s Brittney Griner. Her 21.2 points per game this season is the best in school history, just edging Wecker, who scored 21 points a game as a senior. Chambers’ 762 points scored this season is 76 points better than the previous school record owned by Tammie Romstad, whose number hangs in Bramlage.

“I feel like for the last six weeks I’ve been saying, ‘wow, Brittany is one of the most amazing players I’ve had the opportunity to coach, one of the most competitive, she’s rewriting the Kansas State record books,’ and yet every week, she did something better, something more,” Patterson said. “And this WNIT has opened the door to even greater things from her.

“She, without question is one of the best in Kansas State history, but in the history of the Big 12.”

In the WNIT alone, Chambers is shooting 54 percent from the field — including 55 percent from behind the arc — and averaging 28.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and five assists a game.

“I’ve had spurts where I’ve played well, but I think it’s just that I don’t want to go out on a bad note,” said Chambers, who scored at least 30 points four times this season. “It could happen where I start missing shots, but you don’t have time right now to get mad about that or play angry or upset. My mindset isn’t about points, it’s just about having fun and playing these last couple games with my teammates.”

While Chambers downplayed her hot streak, one person who knows she’s never seen better from her teammate of four years is Mariah White. The senior point guard has had a front-row seat to Chambers’ record-breaking season and four-game WNIT run, often on the giving end of an assist. There isn’t a place on the floor Chambers can’t score from right now, so it seems, whether it’s stepping out for a deep 3 or taking a defender off the dribble for a layup.

“She’s been incredible,” White said. “Her confidence is super high and its not just her, but her teammates — we all have confidence in her. It’s like, ‘if you want to shoot the ball from half-court, we have the confidence it will go in. Anything she does in her play, we believe it’s the right thing to do and that she’s going to make a great play.”

In a way, Chambers’ current scoring surge is just a microcosm of the overall offensive groove the Wildcats have been in since the beginning of March when K-State (19-17) knocked off Texas Tech. The Wildcats have won six of their last eight games — with their only losses coming to Baylor.

Chambers has been the story, sure, but Haley Texada has also been huge for the Wildcats down the stretch, scoring in double figures in six of her last seven games — including an average of 13.8 points a game in the WNIT. This past Saturday, junior forward Chantay Caron even got into the mix, scoring a career-high 19 points in the win over Illinois, while nearly seven rebounds a game in the postseason.

“It’s a credit to her team because they’ve found a way to put her in a position to be successful, not to diminish their own role and their own responsibilities playing around a great player,” Patterson said.

Chambers said playing in the Big 12 prepared the Wildcats for the WNIT.

“Coming into these games, whatever teams are going to throw at us, we’ve already faced it,” she said. “We wait to see what they hit us with and then answer it.”

Patterson said her team played quality basketball at times during the regular season, but believes K-State is locked into its most consistent stretch of the year right now — at a perfect time nonetheless.

“It’s different competition because the opponent is unfamiliar and they’re unfamiliar with you too,” she said. “That’s freed us up… They don’t know all of us as well — they know Brittany — but they don’t know all of us.”

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