Texas had no doubt Kansas State guard Brittany Chambers would have the basketball in her hands with the game’s outcome on the line.
The surprise came when Chambers was open for a back-door layup. The Wildcat senior’s final shot bounced on the rim three times before settling into the net as the buzzer sounded to give Kansas State a 51-49 victory over Texas in the first round of the Big 12 Women’s Tournament Friday night at American Airlines Center.
Chambers said her shot resulted from a “broken play.” Kansas State coach Deb Patterson described guard Mariah White’s pass to Chambers as “tremendous senior-to-senior execution.”
Texas was hoping for overtime after freshman center Imani McGee-Stafford banked in a short jumper with 30.2 seconds left to tie the game at 49-49. The Wildcats, looking to win the game on the final possession, called timeout with 12 seconds left.
“For 39 minutes we were popping three-pointers,” Chambers said. “We knew Texas was going to expect us to shoot another.”
Kansas State’s first 12 shots of the game were from behind the three-point line. Chambers and teammate Haley Texada combined to hit 6 shots behind the arc in the first half, but KSU won the game by executing a pair of layups in the final minute.
Texas coach Karen Aston was worried Kansas State might try to win the game with a play under the bucket. That’s what she warned her team during the timeout with 12 seconds to go.
“The last thing I told them in the timeout was not to get caught staring at the basketball, mainly because (the Wildcats) had just made a back-door layup on their previous possession, and that’s exactly what happened,” Aston said. “Chambers did what all great players do, going back door (to receive the pass).”
Officials looked at TV replays to determine whether Chambers got the shot off in time. The Wildcats erupted in joy when official Scott Yarbrough signaled it did.
“It felt like that ball bounced on the rim for 10 minutes,” said Chambers, who led all scorers with 20 points. Texada added 19 for the the Wildcats, who advance to play Baylor at 1:30 p.m. today.
Aston said the game will be remembered for its last-second drama, but “it was lost” in the first half.
Texas could have used some help in the first half from assistant coaches Stacy Stephens and Amie Smith Bradley, two of UT’s best rebounders in the past 20 years. Kansas State, ranked 302nd in the nation (out of 343 Division I teams) inexplicably outrebounded Texas, the No. 9 team in that category, 23-17.
KSU (15-16) had just two players score in the first 20 minutes — Chambers and Texada — but the Wildcats earned a 27-17 lead at the break. Texas, which shot 8 for 30 from the field (26.7 percent) missed countless point-blank shots against the shorter Wildcats.
The Horns (12-18) found a rhythm in the second half and outrebounded the Wildats 22-15 in the final 20 minutes.
McGee-Stafford said she was “nervous” while missing point-blank layups in the second half, but it was her hook shot with 7:58 to go that gave Texas its first lead of the second half. The Horns had a 30-16 edge in points in the paint and committed only six turnovers, 15 below their season average.