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Wildcats Dancing After Big Win

By Mark Janssen

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Texas A&M basketball coach Gary Blair greeted K-State's Deb Patterson after Wednesday's 71-67 Wildcat upset of the No. 5 Aggies with a handshake, and, "Welcome to the NCAA Tournament, Kansas State. You just punched your ticket."

On this particular night, the Aggies (24-4, 12-3) in Blair's words, "got beat by the better team."
It would take some scrounging through the record books to find a much more meaningful victory for a K-State women's team. Oh, there have been games that wrapped up conference championships, but this one, at least for now, very likely has the Wildcats in the women's NCAA Tournament field of 64.

"I think it would be one of the most disappointing things that I've seen in NCAA Tournament selections for a team to come out of this league as high as we have finished and not make it," said Patterson, whose Wildcats have wins over No. 5 A&M and No. 14 St. John's as part of their 9-6 Big 12 mark and 19-9 overall record. "I think it will end being the way it should be. I think we have earned our way into the tournament."

For the record, only twice has a team with nine Big 12 wins not gone to the NCAA Tournament, and only twice has a team with 10 wins in Big 12 play not advanced.

The Wildcats, picked No. 9 in the Big 12 preseason polls, will play for that 10th win on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Kansas.

ESPN bracketologist Charlie Creme has K-State as one of the "Last Four In" and as a No. 12 seed. In pairings that change on a daily, if not hourly, basis, he has K-State playing No. 5 seed Green Bay in College Park, Md., and as part of the Philadelphia Regional.

Also from the Big 12 are No. 1 seed Baylor, No. 2 Texas A&M, No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 6 Iowa State, No. 9 Texas Tech and No. 11 Texas.

As one of the "Last Four In" the tournament could mean that with one loss in the next two games, K-State could slide to the "First Four Out" list.

To that, however, Patterson said, "I don't really feel the committee will look at our selection quite like the ESPN writer at this point. I feel like there might be a little more of a gap. I think our league has established a reputation with the quality of play that you have to bring night in and night out in this league and that will carry more relevance than what one writer might think."

Real Time RPI also has the same seven league schools in the tournament with K-State paired against West Virginia in Minneapolis, Minn., in the Dayton Regional.

Prior to defeating A&M, Patterson said of K-State's NCAA chances, "I think we were significantly bubble-ish. And I think that the next two games we played (at KU Saturday and the first round of the Big 12 Championship) were going to be live or die on having to win them at all costs.

"Now the expectation is that we need to win, but I believe we should be in the tournament," Patterson said.

And, so do her players.

Senior Kelsey Hill said, "Being in the NCAA tournament is what this program is all about. It's our tradition."

BIG-TIME WINS: K-State's win over a team ranked as high as No. 5 was the fourth in school history. The others were over No. 2 Old Dominion in 1982, No. 4 Stephen F. Austin in 1976, and No. 4 Iowa State in 2002.

While Patterson said she does not compare the win over No. 5 A&M with victories that secured Big 12 titles, she does lump the victory with one at A&M in 2008 that ignited a 13-3 Big 12 championship season, and a pair of overtime wins at Texas in 2006 and 2008.

CHAMBERS REPORT: The 35 points scored by Brittany Chambers were the most since Nicole Ohlde netted 36 against Wyoming on Nov. 24, 2000, and ties the fifth highest in school history.

"I had a 48-point ballgame in high school, but it wasn't a Big 12 game against the No. 5 team in the country, so it was a little bit different," said Chambers.

The 35 points ranks only behind Kendra Wecker's 41 against Illinois State; Shawnda DeCamp's 38 against Detroit; LeAnn Wilcox's 38 vs. Pfeiffer; and, Ohlde's 36.

The point total tied Mary Jo Miller's 35 vs. OU in 1992 and Diana Miller's 35 vs. OU in 1990 in a Big Eight Conference game.

Her seven 3-pointers were the highest since Wecker nailed eight against Illinois State. Chambers has made four or more 3-pointers in a game in 10 games this season and 14 career contests. She has made a 3-point field goal in 55 of her 60 career games. Her seven makes against A&M put her at 81 for her sophomore season, breaking the former mark of 76 by Kristin Rethman in 1999-00.

CHILDS ON DAY-TO-DAY LIST: Patterson said the injury to Jalana Childs suffered in the first minute of Wednesday's game was one of "... tissue and muscle, but nothing to do with a bone or a fracture. It's just the kind you rehab and hopefully she will feel comfortable in the next couple days."

Patterson said Childs did not practice on Thursday, and will not Friday, and she said that she has not received the "green light" for her to play against Kansas on Saturday.

"It will just depend on her ability to handle the soreness and how functional she can be on that given day," Patterson said. "It's not like a high ankle sprain where there is no way."

On what chances she gave her own team against A&M 40 seconds into the game with Childs on the bench, Patterson offered, "They had diminished to .001. I'm not very good at math, but I know that's not very much.

"Our attitude was, 'Well, let's keep fighting, but this may be a bigger hit than you can handle.'"

She would be wrong.

CHEERING FROM AFAR: Former Wildcat Laurie Koehn was cheering the Wildcats on via her internet ... in Poland, where she is playing professional basketball.

"She called us and said she stayed up until 5:15 (a.m.) watching our game," said K-State assistant Kamie Ethridge.

UP NEXT: K-State finishes regular season play on Saturday at Kansas in a 6:30 p.m. start in Allen Fieldhouse. In the first game this season, K-State defeated KU 65-60.

If K-State wins and Iowa State defeats Missouri (12-17, 4-11) on Saturday in Columbia, the Wildcats and Cyclones would tie for fourth in the Big 12. ISU would get the No. 4 seed by way of its sweep of K-State during the regular season.

If K-State wins and Iowa State loses, then the Wildcats would claim the No. 4 seed.

K-State could still tie Oklahoma for third, but the Sooners would have the tie-breaker.

As a No. 5 seed, K-State would play the 1:30 p.m. game on Tuesday at Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium likely against OSU or Nebraska. With a first-round victory, it would then face Iowa State at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday.


We hope you enjoy K-State Sports Extra. We would like to hear your comments and any story ideas for future emails, so fire them our way. Contact either Mark Janssen at mjanssen7@cox.net, or Kansas State Director of Athletic Communications/SID Kenny Lannou at klannou@kstatesports.com. For those who would like to share Sports Extra with a friend or family member, or change your current email address, click here.