Brittany Chambers and Mariah White weren’t going to lose Saturday.
Not this day. Not senior day.
The two Kansas State seniors did what they’ve done for four seasons Saturday and sent Texas Tech back to Lubbock with its first loss since mid February, winning 68-62 at Bramlage Coliseum.
Chambers scored 31 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while White collected 10 assists and six steals to go along with six points. It was Chambers’ second 30-point game this week and third in her last seven outings, as K-State snapped its four-game losing streak.
“Brittany was just extraordinary,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “She just refused to lose and brought a smart, intelligent and aggressive disposition to her decisions on the offensive end. When she does that, all things come together.
“It was great to see her and Mariah have this opportunity to play such a high-quality 40 minutes with their teammates in our last regular season Big 12 game at home.”
With emotions running high, Chambers was 12 of 19 from the field and 5 of 7 from behind the arc, scoring 21 points in the second half alone. After Saturday, the Jordan, Minn., native needs just 37 points to become only the 12th player in Big 12 history to score at least 2,000 career points.
And though Saturday was all about the Wildcats’ two seniors, Chambers brought it back to the team following the big win.
“We’re family and we’ve said that throughout the whole year, but we really care about each other and we’ve had a hard year with the injuries, just gone through a lot of things this year, which has brought us even closer together,” Chambers said. “We’re family and we really love each other and its hard to say goodbye and think about not being together again.”
White wanted to share the victory with last season’s seniors.
“It feels good to get a win because last year we couldn’t do it for those seniors,” said White, who was 1 for 2 from the field and 4 for 5 from the foul line. “This year was not only for me and Brittany, but for Brandy (Brown), Jalana (Childs), Emma (Ostermann) and those other seniors. It was a great win for us to end it.”
The Wildcats (14-15, 5-12 Big 12) trailed 31-30 at halftime to the Red Raiders, who entered the game second in the Big 12. K-State controlled this game early — leading by as many as 10 in the first half before a six-minute scoring drought allowed Texas Tech (21-8, 11-6) to climb back into it.
“We had difficulty staying active,” Patterson said. “Their matchup or sagging defense really caused some confusion at times and I thought we got a little passive… We missed some layups during that segment that I think would have helped change the game a little bit, but I was proud that we didn’t let the game get away from us.”
K-State, which shot 48 percent from the field and made 12 of 24 from long range, regained control midway through the second half, led by, of course the Wildcats’ two seniors. Chambers led a 17-4 run with 11 points, while White contributed three assists and a steal during the surge that put the Wildcats back in front for good at 57-48 with 6:19 to play.
Trailing 44-40, Chambers started the run with a 3-pointer, which was followed by Bri Craig’s second trey of the half to move ahead 46-44. Chambers then buried another 3-pointer, followed it with a short jumper, and then made it 54-48 after a three-point play on a layup and foul with 7:03 remaining. Chantay Caron, who finished with 10 points, capped the run with her only 3-pointer of the game.
“We were trying to be more aggressive and they turned to that zone, and when you attack, you’re 3-point shot comes along with it,” Chambers said. “We wanted to take it at them, instead of letting them come at us.”
K-State used an 11-4 run to open the game — powered by a pair of 3-pointers from Craig and one from Haley Texada. Craig finished with 14 points.
The Wildcats, who were edged on the boards 29-26, pushed their lead to 21-11 with 13:10 to go on a 3-pointer from Chambers, who scored 10 first-half points. Both teams exchanged baskets with Chambers and White combining to score six points during the next five minutes.
But K-State went cold and allowed Texas Tech to rally, using 11 unanswered points to take a 29-27 lead with 2:47 left in the half. The Wildcats missed five straight shots and turned the ball over three times during the six-minute lull until Kendra Spresser drained a 3-pointer to stop the bleeding and send the Wildcats into the break down by one.
Texas Tech, which shot 48 percent from the field, had four players in double figures, led by 22 points from Chynna Brown. Monique Smalls added 12 points, while Kelsi Baker and Christine Hyde scored 11 apiece.
K-State will have a quick turnaround this week, as the Wildcats leave this afternoon to close out the regular season Monday night at Baylor, tipping at 7 on Fox Sports. The Wildcats will begin play in the Big 12 Championship on Friday in Dallas.