K-State will stay home to face Illini

By Kelly McHugh

Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said it best Thursday night.

“There’s no place like home,” she said, following her team’s 60-48 victory over Ball State at Bramlage Coliseum.

K-State will be staying at home this weekend to host Illinois on Saturday in the quarterfinal round of the Women’s NIT, tipping at 4 p.m.

“To have your players at home, to not have to go through that travel day and to be able to be focused in and not have to deal with that, it’s an advantage if you make it one,” Patterson said.

Though the turnaround is quick, travel isn’t the only advantage of staying home, Patterson said.

“I certainly appreciate the fan support that we’ve had up until this time and I hope that we can build on it with a great Big Ten team coming in here,” Patterson said. “Every time they’re sitting in the stands now, they’ve made an investment. You see fans that have really been a part of each game thorough this WNIT tournament.”

The Illini (19-13) reached the WNIT quarterfinals with wins over Miami (Ohio), Eastern Illinois and then a 63-55 win over Toledo Thursday night.

Senior forward Karisma Penn and junior guard Amber Moore led Illinois Thursday. Penn finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Moore scored 18 points.

Patterson and her staff are prepared for Illinois. The Cats’ coaching staff had prepared for every scenario in the quarterfinals because of the uncertainty of travel game-to-game in the WNIT.

“They’re very, very athletic,” Patterson said. “They’ve got that three-player triangle and they play around a lot. If I could give an comparison, they would be a little like Texas Tech — pure athleticism, and very, very aggressive.

“We’re going to have to play a great Big 12 caliber game when they come in here on Saturday.”

The Wildcats have been led by Brittany Chambers. The senior guard has scored 93 points in three WNIT games so far, including a school-record 42 points in the first round against Texas Southern last week.

Though the pressure could seem to build with every game for the Wildcats — considering every game could be their last —  Chambers said she and her teammates don’t look at it that way.

“Every game you win, it gets tougher and tougher, but I’m not feeling any pressure,” Chambers said. “I don’t think we’re really feeling pressure at this point. We feel extremely blessed to still be playing — we thought our season was done.

“So we look at every game as just another opportunity to be together and to play together and to be on this court. We try not to take anything for granted.”

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