Don’t Stop Believing

2 Mar

You don’t have to care about women’s basketball to enjoy this story – I promise. This is about an unranked team defying the odds and sending out its two seniors with a win over the No. 5 team in the country. To make the victory even more monumental, the underdog pulled off the upset without its second-leading scorer and main post presence.

This is the story of Wednesday night’s game between the Kansas State Wildcats and the Texas A&M Aggies. Junior forward Jalana Childs barreled through the lane for a basket in the first several minutes of the game, and she went down hard and never returned. The offensive foul call served as insult to injury – the injury being a bruised tailbone.

Don’t misunderstand: the absence of Childs made life more difficult for the Wildcats, as they got outrebounded 40-26. However, sophomore guard Brittany Chambers had the game of her career to compensate, scoring 35 points, the second-highest output from either the men’s or women’s basketball team this season.

Kansas State led for the majority of the game, but it still came down to fouling and free throws, and the Wildcats sealed the deal by making 17 from the charity stripe.

Texas A&M head coach Gary Blair had some choice words for Kansas State head coach Deb Patterson at the conclusion of the game.

“Welcome to the NCAA tournament, K-State. You just punched your ticket.”

For Patterson’s part, she tried hard to wipe the huge smile off her face and be a bit more professional as she headed for the line of handshakes. At the postgame press conference, though, she did not succeed.

The coach called the victory “a signature win” because of the prominence of the opponent: a team with All-American-caliber players and a Hall of Fame-caliber coach from a program that has had great success during his tenure there.

Blair said when he looks at the game film from Wednesday night, he will probably praise K-State more than criticize his own players. The Wildcats’ shooting – 50 percent from the floor and 52.6 percent from beyond the arc – especially made an impression.

“That’s why you got eight former K-State players in the WNBA,” he said, “because the ability to shoot the ball is a lot more important than being able to jump up and grab the rim.”

Against Iowa State on Feb. 26, the Wildcats couldn’t make a 3-pointer to save their lives – it took them 10 attempts to finally get one through the net. Tonight, they converted on 10 of 19 attempts.

What’s the final takeaway from all this? Every team is fallible. On the other hand, every team has the potential to win if it has the desire to do so and executes accordingly. Most importantly, never underestimate the opponent; that’s a lesson Texas A&M learned the hard way.

This was only my second women’s game to report on this season, and I have to say, I am impressed.

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