Last season a win against a top-ranked Texas A&M team energized Kansas State towards the end of the Big 12 schedule, and Wednesday night, the Wildcats were able to get that boost to start it.
With less than two seconds remaining in overtime, Mariah White drove through the lane and kissed the basketball off the glass to lift K-State over No. 8 Texas A&M 71-69 in Bramlage Coliseum.
“I’m extremely proud of our basketball team,” K-State head coach Deb Patterson said. “I think we lined up against one of America’s finest programs tonight and fought extremely hard from the tip to the finish.”
Brittany Chambers scored 21 points, Tasha Dickey had 17 and Jalana Childs added 16 for the Wildcats (10-3). White finished with 12 points, 11 assists, five rebounds, three steals and a block.
Tyra White led the Aggies (9-3, 0-1) with 17 points and Sydney Carter added 16. Kelsey Bone chipped in 14 points and 10 rebounds.
“You have to give Mariah White a lot of credit and not just for the last shot,” Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair said. “She is a driver. When everything was taken away, she puts the ball on the floor and we allowed her to get side-by-side and the kid just made a play. Eleven assists, two turnovers and she hit the winning basket. It was not Chambers that beat us; it was Mariah White.”
Kansas State, which trailed 34-25 at the half, shot a season-best 54 percent (27-of-50) from the field, while Texas A&M — the defending NCAA champions — hit 42 percent (28-for-67).
The Wildcats surged after the break and shot 60 percent in the second half, which included a 14-4 run that brought KSU out of a 39-29 hole three minutes into the half.
Free throws proved costly for the Aggies, who went 10-for-19 from the stripe — including a 4-for-11 mark in the second half alone.
The Wildcats weren’t much better at 13-for-21 from the free throw line, but most of their makes came down the stretch and in overtime.
“I just dribbled around,” White said about her game-winner. “I heard my team from the bench count down the clock. Nobody was open so I had no one to throw it to. I just said, ‘Dear Lord, help me with this shot.’
“I just threw up the shot, and it went in.”
Patterson credited White’s growth as a player, now in her junior season.
“She makes that huge shot, but leads the night with 11 assists,” Patterson said. “It’s amazing. Last year she was a sophomore who hadn’t played much at all and was still learning. This year she is just light-years ahead.”
With 14:13 left in regulation K-State’s White tied the game at 39-all with a basket inside, plus the foul, and both teams traded baskets the next three minutes.
The Wildcats held a 47-46 lead with 10:33 to go after a White layup, but both defenses stepped up the pressure and there were only six combined points scored before a jumper by A&M’s Tyra White sparked a Aggie run with 4:10 left.
A&M seemed to finally find control of the contest after another score by White — this time on a fast-break layup — put the Aggies in front 56-51.
But K-State didn’t let the comfort last long.
Chambers scored on a fast break of her own and added another moments later to bring the Wildcats back to within a point and a Childs jumper tied the game 57-57 with 1:21 left.
Tyra White again scored on the other end for Texas A&M and Chambers again answered back for KSU.
Bone put A&M ahead by two with a short jumper from the free-throw line with 26 seconds remaining, but a slick pass from KSU’s White found its way to an open Childs under the rim for the tying bucket, sending the game into overtime.
Like the minutes before, both teams traded baskets in the overtime period and the game was tied 63-63 with 2:03 left after Bone scored in the paint.
K-State turned the ball over after a timeout but received a break when the Aggies turned the ball over on the other end. Still, KSU couldn’t find the basket and with 49 seconds left, Texas A&M’s Adaora Elonu got a steal.
The Wildcat defense responded, though, and a loose ball ended up being a steal for KSU’s Ashia Woods. With Woods on the ground trying to secure the ball, K-State took a timeout with 24 seconds on the clock.
After the pause, the Wildcats’ White found an open lane in the paint and touched it off the glass for the winning score with less than two seconds left in the game and K-State was able to hold on for the win.
“The balance is what propelled us to the victory tonight,” Patterson said. “I thought we were terrific in sharing the ball. We had people who stepped up and who wanted the responsibility to make and finish plays. When you look at the stat sheet, quite frankly, there was no one who in one way performed that did not impact us offensively.
“I want to credit our basketball team for our growth. It was a key to our success tonight.”
K-State will continue play Saturday on the road against rival Kansas.
The Jayhawks defeated No. 23 Texas 72-67 in a road contest on Wednesday in Austin, Texas.