Losing to Oklahoma a week ago was bad enough for the Kansas State women’s basketball team, but perhaps the worst thing to come of the home loss, was that the Sooners might have provided a recipe for slowing down Brittany Chambers.
The Wildcats’ leading scorer, again, was the target of an aggressive defensive gameplan and again, K-State came out on the losing end, falling to Iowa State 66-57 on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
Chambers, who finished with just five points in the Wildcats’ third straight loss, was chased around the court all night, mirrored on every move behind the arc and slash to the basket by the Cyclones.
“We watch all the film like everyone else, but we are a team, historically, that has defended to not let the best player on the other team beat you, and we tried to do that,” Iowa State coach Bill Fennelly said. “I’ve watched games where Brittany Chambers scored 35 to 40 points. She changes the dynamics of the crowd. She stretches the defense. She is always moving.”
The junior guard, who had a team-high eight rebounds, managed just one shot attempt in the first half and only got three for five all night, including a pair of misfires on her only 3-point tries in the game.
“It is impossible to scout all of their plays, so you just have to go back on fundamentals and chase her, and then hope that the other kids don’t make everything,” Fennelly said.
For a while in the first half, it seemed Fennelly’s fear might just come true when the Cyclones (11-7, 2-5 Big 12) got burned on multiple 3s from Mariah White, JuliAnne Chisholm, Chantay Caron and Tasha Dickey to help the Wildcats (13-6, 4-3) take a nine-point halftime lead.
“You live and die,” Fennelly said. “You’re sitting there going, ‘OK, maybe this wasn’t a good idea. But our defense on Brittany Chambers was certainly the focal point of the success of our team, especially in the second half.”
The plan worked perfectly for Iowa State in the second half, though, as the supporting cast that helped carry the Wildcats in the first half, provided very little pop down the stretch when the Cyclones rallied for the come-from-behind victory.
“In the second half, Iowa State adjusted and they decided to play some man-to-man and we disappeared on the offensive end of the floor,” K-State coach Deb Patterson said. “We just flat-out disappeared. We have got to get better in a lot of areas to continue to be the kind of basketball team that can be competitive.”
Iowa State, which shot 46 percent from the field and 50 percent in the second half used a 22-6 run that covered 6 minutes and erased a five-point lead with 13:32 to play.
Doing the most damage was the Cyclones’ bruising forward Chelsea Poppens, who scored 16 of her game-high 23 points in the second half. The 6-foot-2 junior scored 10 points on the decisive run, coupled with back-to-back 3-pointers from Lauren Mansfield, to give the Cyclones a 56-48 lead with 5:13 remaining.
K-State, led by a team-high 22 points from Jalana Childs, scored just nine points the rest of the way, while Iowa State buried all six free throw attempts and continued to pound K-State in transition, helped by multiple defensive rebounds.
The Cyclones dominated K-State on the glass on the night, winning the rebound battle 38-25, while limiting the Wildcats to just four offensive boards.
“They pasted us on the boards, which I thought was a very critical aspect of the game as we became one-shot-and-out,” Patterson said. “Four offensive rebounds will not beat anybody in Big 12 basketball, nor will 25 (total rebounds). So, that alone is enough to beat you.
“It puts a lot of pressure on you defensively and offensively. You have to play perfect and we are far from perfect and they exploited that fact and did a great job in that respect.”
K-State, which shot 40 percent from the field, charged out to a 17-10 lead to start on six points from Childs and a pair of wide-open 3-pointers from White. Then after withstanding a run by the Cyclones to take a 20-19 lead, the Wildcats pushed ahead again with treys from Dickey, Caron and Chisholm — using a 12-3 run to take control at the break against a team that had lost five straight games before defeating Texas Tech on Sunday.
“I just think we have to get our heads right — point blank — period,” said Childs, who was 11-of-19 from the field. “We’re going to miss shots and we are going to make mistakes, but we have to keep our heads in the game for the whole 40 minutes and I think that showed tonight.
“We all made mistakes tonight. I had too many mistakes tonight — five turnovers is a lot. That’s too many mistakes and that cannot happen.”
The Wildcats will now hit the road for back-to-back games at Oklahoma State on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. and then at Texas on Wednesday before returning home to host Baylor on Feb. 4 at 7 p.m.