MANHATTAN, Kan. -- Kansas State coach Deb Patterson hailed the Wildcats' 71-67 upset over No. 5 Texas A&M Wednesday night as a "signature win."
It had Brittany Chambers' name written all over it.
Chambers hit seven 3-pointers and scored a career-high 35 points, helping the Wildcats (19-9, 9-6 Big 12) take a big step toward the No. 4 seed and a bye in the Big 12 tournament.
With the Wildcats losing frontliner Jalana Childs in the opening minute because of a bruised tailbone, Chambers took it on herself to propel Kansas State to the victory. After Texas A&M (24-4, 12-3) overcame a 15-point deficit in the first half, Chambers came back to hit a 3 that snapped a 56-all tie with 3:11 remaining and pushed Kansas State ahead for good.
"Jalana was out of the game and I knew someone had to step up," Chambers said. "They were having to focus on the run-outs and that got me some open shots."
Texas A&M coach Gary Blair brought a smile to Patterson's face when he told her Kansas State had just punched its ticket to the NCAA tournament.
"It's a solid win because [Texas A&M] is a program that we have a lot of respect for," Patterson said. "It's not just a team that found its way up into the top 10 and we beat them and in two or three weeks they aren't going to be there. This is a program at Texas A&M and so that made it 'signature.'"
Blair said Kansas State's win was no fluke.
"Welcome to the NCAA tournament, Kansas State," Blair said. "Tonight, we got beat by the better team."
The Wildcats were able to limit Texas A&M scoring leader Danielle Adams to 19 points on 7-of-18 shooting and forced her into committing five turnovers.
Blair said Adams hadn't felt well on Tuesday night and her instructions were to post up low because Blair didn't feel she had her legs for perimeter shots.
"We were so unbelievably focused and accountable, which gave us a chance," Patterson said. "We had great mental toughness out there as a basketball team and we followed it up with great physical plays."
Patterson doesn't believe the injury to Childs is long-term, but she'll know more Thursday.
"Hopefully, through treatment, we'll be able to get her back before too much time lapses," Patterson said.
Sydney Colson had 21 points for the Aggies, who had lost only to No. 3 Baylor and Duke (No. 7 ESPN/USA Today, No. 8 AP) before falling to the unranked Wildcats.
Kansas State came out strong from 3-pointer range while rolling to a 20-5 lead with 12:24 left in the first half. During that span, Kansas State was 5-of-7 from behind the arc, as Texas A&M's man-to-man defense seemed to dare the Wildcats to fire away from the deep perimeter.
Almost all that early offense came from Chambers and Taelor Karr, who combined for 19 of the the Wildcats' first 20 points.
Texas A&M steadied itself as Adams began to pick it up following a slow start, but the Aggies still trailed 34-23 before the closing the half with a 7-0 run over the final 1:42. A putback by Adams resulted in a three-point play before Sydney Carter's fastbreak layup.
The Aggies managed to get Adams posted deep for a power move that brought Texas A&M within 34-30 at the break.
The Wildcats were 7-for-11 from 3-point range in the first half after entering the game shooting 32 percent from long range. Chambers had four 3s in the half and her third of the game gave her a season total of 77, the most ever for a Kansas State sophomore.
The Aggies took a 53-51 lead on Tyra White's jumper with 5:51 remaining. But the Wildcats got a transition layup from Karr and a 3 from Chambers to move back ahead two minutes later.
"We had a great team effort tonight," Karr said. "We had spacing and great movement and everybody was cutting hard."
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