Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports
Following a disappointing season in which the K-State women’s basketball team lost five players to injuries while finishing with a losing overall record and only 5-13 in the Big 12, there didn’t seem to be a lot for the Wildcats to look forward to after losing to Baylor 80-47 in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals. However, a first round win over Texas bought an automatic bid to the Women’s NIT tournament and opportunity to extend the season in Bramlage Coliseum.
The Women’s NIT provides an automatic berth to the highest finishing team in the Big 12 (and other major conferences) that is not selected to the NCAA tournament. Seven teams from the Big 12 received invitations this year; No. 1 overall Baylor led a field also populated by No. 5 seed Iowa State, No. 6 Oklahoma, No. 7 Oklahoma State, No. 7 Texas Tech, No. 11 West Virginia and No. 12 Kansas. That left K-State to receive entry into the 64-team, single-elimination bracket.
The Wildcats last played in the WNIT in 2007, when they reached the semifinals, and claimed the championship in 2006. They enter the 2013 field led by senior guard Brittany Chambers, who has been recognized on the All-Big 12 team. Chambers has been K-State’s all-everything this year, and is averaging 20.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.1 assists. This season marked her third straight All-Big 12 first team recognition. Against Iowa State earlier this year, Chambers and fellow senior guard Mariah White combined to score 59 points – a school record.
Facing Kansas State is Texas Southern, who finished 20-11 overall and 16-2 in the Southwest Athletic Conference. The Tigers are coached by Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame member Cynthia Cooper-Dyke and ran roughshod over the SWAC this year – the only regular season conference opponent to defeat Texas Southern was Southern University. Texas Southern faced one ranked team this year, dropping a 91-49 decision to then #18 Oklahoma State.
Should K-State advance, it would take on the winner of Illinois State and Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis at Manhattan. The date and time will be determined based on the results of first round action.