K-State seniors to play final home game

By Joshua Kinder

Brittany Chambers and Mariah White might be one of the most dynamic backcourt duos the Kansas State women’s basketball team has ever seen.

One is the pure scorer and 3-point artist, the other the distributor and lockdown defender.

On Saturday afternoon, Chambers and White — who actually share the same birthday — will play their final regular season game together at Bramlage Coliseum against Texas Tech at 12:30 p.m.

“These four years have gone by so fast,” said White, who is fourth in school history for assists (413) and eighth in steals (185). “As a freshman, you don’t think you’re going to make it, and now it’s almost over. I have two more regular season games left — crazy.”

The Midwest City, Okla., native said she hasn’t thought about Saturday being her last game at Bramlage.

“It probably won’t hit me until after the game,” she said. “I want to go into it just like any other game.”

Chambers has played in 126 straight games — that’s every game since her freshman year — and been on the court for a school-record 4,384 minutes. Now, her final game at home comes down to just 40 minutes.

“I’ve thought about it being my last time, but it hasn’t hit me at all,” said Chambers, who leads the Wildcats with 19.2 points and 7.5 rebounds a game. “I’ve watched seniors leave every year. I’ve cried for all those seniors, but I may not even cry for me because it just doesn’t seem real.

“It’s hard to picture yourself not doing something you’ve done for four years.  You get used to stepping on the court twice a week. I think it’ll hit me when I’m not actually doing it anymore.”

Chambers is third in K-State history with 1,932 points, second with 310 3-pointers, seventh with 790 rebounds and ninth with 328 assists. In addition to being second in Big 12 history for 3-pointers, the Jordan, Minn., native is the fourth player in league history to post more than 1,900 points, 775 rebounds and 325 assists in a career.

The 5-foot-8 guard has etched her name in the same record books as former Wildcat greats Kendra Wecker, Nicole Ohlde, Laurie Koehn and Shalee Lehning — a place she never envisioned when arriving in Manhattan four years ago.

“It’s weird to compare myself to those other players like Ohlde, Wecker or Laurie,” said Chambers, who scored a career-high 36 points in the Wildcats’ loss at West Virginia on Tuesday. “In my mind, I haven’t been comparable to them because I’ve always put them in a different class.”

But as far as K-State associate head coach Kamie Ethridge is concerned, Chambers deserves every bit of the comparisons.

“What she’s done is as good or better than anyone that we’ve experienced here,” she said Thursday. “The weight of the world has been on her. She’s had to score 20 points a game… You could argue that she’s as good as anyone who has ever played here, and she’s done it with less talent around her during a four-year career than other players we’ve had. That fact that we don’t win unless Brittany Chambers scores a high volume of points tells you everything.

“She’s carried the program for a lot of years.”

The individual achievements are nice, something that Chambers will remember for years. But her senior season hasn’t been easy. K-State has lost four straight games and eight of its last nine. With the hopes of making their third straight NCAA tournament out the window, the Wildcats go into their final two games and the league tournament fighting for a chance at playing in the WNIT.

“It’s hard for me this year because I’d like to go out with these records, and wins,” said Chambers, who is second in the Big 12 in scoring behind only Baylor’s Brittney Griner. “But I think struggle is always good too, maybe not for me, but for these girls coming back next year. We struggled my freshman year, but came back and went to the NCAA tournament twice. If my struggles now means they can be better in the future, then that will be a good thing.”

It would have been easy for seniors like Chambers and White to pack it in this season. After all, nothing has come easy for the Wildcats (13-15, 4-12 Big 12). K-State has battled injuries, losing five players to season-ending injuries and another who left the program at semester. But like Chambers, White said if this season’s growing pains help the program in the long run, then that’s the most important thing.

“It’s frustrating because we all want to win,” said White, who has led the Wildcats in assists and steals as the point guard the past three years. “We hate losing, but when you look at things for next year’s team, you’re hopeful. They got experience this year and that’s going to mean a lot to them.

“I can’t just stop and give up now and not teach them. I have to do it for them and for myself. To make them better next year, I have to keep going this year.”

That bond for the betterment of the future is just one part of the relationship formed on and off the court between Chambers and White the last four years. It’s a bond that started with a shared birthday and will continue far beyond their final home basketball game together.

“When you’ve been through so much together in practices, games, struggles, ups and downs, they understand you in a way other people don’t really understand you,” Chambers said of her friendship with White. “Being together for four years, we’ve cried together, been terrible together and had fun together.”

Ethridge said the struggles this season have brought the two even closer together on and off the court.

“They know that they have to be unbelievably perfect for us to even have a chance to win,” she said. “We’re asking the impossible out of them every single night. And I think that has brought them close together as anything. They’ve laid it all on the line for the program and for each other.”

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