Teams with only seven players and no height to speak of aren’t supposed to win many games, let alone defeat Top 15 teams in the Big 12.
But don’t tell that to the Wildcats.
Just a couple days removed from losing two more players for the season, undermanned and undersized K-State gutted out a 76-70 overtime victory over No. 12 Oklahoma State on Wednesday night at Bramlage Coliseum.
Ashia Woods tore her left Achilles tendon and Ashlynn Knoll tore an ACL during Monday’s practice, making that six players K-State has lost since the beginning of the season and leaving nobody taller than 5-foot-11.
“A couple days ago we had the wind taken out of our sails for the day, and not only because they’re two great players, but because we’re a family,” said senior Brittany Chambers, who scored a game-high 26 points on Wednesday. “We could tell (Tuesday) that we were trying to get our feet back under us and get our heads back in it.
“And (Wednesday), at shoot around we came in with our heads on, got shots up and took the court with a no-back-down, we’re-going-to-play-you attitude… It feels even better because it was a hard-fought game.”
K-State upset the Cowgirls in record style too, connecting on a school-best 16 3-pointers on 41 attempts.
“That’s a reflection of ball movement and people staying aggressive and looking to get the shot opportunities relative to who we are,” Patterson said. “It was tremendous to see Brittany rise up and make huge shots and Mariah White — those two seniors just refused to lose. Heidi Brown came off the bench and lived up to her strength as a great shooter…
“We’ve learned we’re capable of being good off of ball distribution and staying aggressive and tonight those are the shots they gave us and the ones we took.”
Six of the seven Wildcats who played made a 3-pointer, including a team-high six from Chambers, who passed Laurie Koehn on the K-State career scoring list for fourth all-time at 1,747 points.
“I thought they played very loose with a what-do-we-have-to-lose mentality and they shot the ball with great confidence and they were having fun,” Oklahoma State coach Jim Littell said of the Wildcats. “They were loose, letting it rip and having fun.
“They put on an unbelievable shooting performance from a lot of different people. They made big shot after big shot.”
K-State lost the battle on the glass 44-30, but did come away with 16 steals, only had nine turnovers and made 14 of 19 at the free-throw line.
“They’re scrappy, they wanted it and they played extremely hard,” Littell said. “Give credit to Deb and her group because they played with a lot of passion tonight.”
With Chambers, four players reached double figures for the Wildcats, including Haley Texada who finished with 15, White with 11 and Brown, who scored 10 off the bench. White was 3 of 4 behind the arc with four rebounds, five assists and seven steals.
“This is just a great effort by some very tough-minded competitors who made their mind up that they were going to compete every second of the game,” Patterson said. “We talked about that all year and tonight it all came together. It was very rewarding to see them have that kind of success.”
The Wildcats (12-7, 3-4) led by one at halftime behind 19 first-half points from Chambers and pushed that lead to as many as 11 early in the second half. K-State, which won its second straight game, opened the second half with four consecutive 3-pointers — one from Texada, one from Chambers and two from White, who was left unguarded all night.
But the Cowgirls (14-3, 3-3) didn’t go away just yet.
Oklahoma State rallied with a 10-1 run to get within two at 56-54 with 7:27 to play. The Cowgirls, who were led by Toni Young’s 22 points and nine rebounds, then tied the game at 61 on a pair of free throws from Brittney Martin.
“We got that 11-point lead and we had such a rush of emotion and momentum, but classic Big 12 basketball, against a Top-15 team, they’re going to run at you,” Patterson said.
K-State had an answer too when Texada stripped Young on one end and then raced to the other for a fast-break layup to regain the lead at 63-61 with 24 seconds remaining. But like the Wildcats, Oklahoma State responded when speedy guard and Andover product Tiffany Bias split defenders and scored on a layup with 6 seconds left to tie the game at 63.
An acrobatic layup try by Mariah White on the other end missed and the game was sent to overtime.
Chambers started things off for K-State with a 3-pointer that was quickly answered by Young to make it 66-65 with 2:10 to go. Bri Craig responded with a layup and then Brown went to work. The little-used guard buried her second 3-pointer of the game to put K-State ahead 71-65 with 56 seconds remaining in the extra period.
The Cowgirls got a 3-pointer from Kendra Suttles to make it 71-68 and Craig was fouled on the other end for a 1-and-1. The freshman missed the free throw and Suttles grabbed the rebound, tossing the ball out to Bias, who missed a trey. Brown hauled down that rebound and went to the line for another 1-and-1. The sophomore didn’t disappoint, as she made both shots and put the Wildcat out front 73-68 with 26 seconds to go.
Texada put the game out of reach with her fourth steal of the game and layup on the other end to go ahead 75-68 with 15 seconds remaining.
“That signifies the growth our team has made and the growth they demonstrated tonight mentally,” Patterson said. “They understood great teams are going to make shots and that we have to continue to work hard, make adjustments and find ways to limit those opportunities… the mental part is where we were victorious.”