HQ forecast: UI women 69, Kansas State 65
UI women at Kansas State, 4 p.m. today
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Alexis Smith So. 5-9 6.5
G Ivory Crawford So. 5-10 11.9
G Amber Moore Jr. 5-11 12.6
G Adrienne GodBold Sr. 5-11 16.1
C Karisma Penn Sr. 6-2 19.2
FYI: With four offensive rebounds Thursday, Penn broke the single-season school record. She now has 123, overtaking previous record-holder Tauja Catchings (121 in 1999-2000).
OFF THE BENCH
G Taylor Tuck So. 6-0 4.7
F McKenzie Piper Fr. 6-0 1.5
F Nia Oden So. 5-10 1.4
Kansas State (18-17)
Pos. Name Yr. Ht. PPG
G Haley Texada So. 5-7 11.6
G Brittany Chambers Sr. 5-8 21.2
G Brianna Craig Fr. 5-10 8.5
G Mariah White Sr. 5-7 6.4
F Chantay Caron Jr. 5-11 6.2
FYI: Chambers has scored 20 or more points in a school-record eight straight games and is averaging 31.0 points in three WNIT games.
OFF THE BENCH
G Heidi Brown So. 5-11 1.9
G Kendra Spresser Jr. 5-5 1.9
Site: Bramlage Coliseum (12,528), Manhattan, Kan.
Radio: WDWS 1400-AM and WDAN 1490-AM; Dave Loane (play-by-play) and Mike Koon (analyst)
Internet: Live stream at www.kstatesports.com/allaccess; no fee.
Series: Kansas State leads 2-0. Last meeting — Kansas State 66, Illinois 51 on March 22, 2007, at Manhattan, Kan.
FYI: The teams’ most recent meeting was in the round of 16 of the WNIT at Manhattan.
Jeff Huth’s storylines
In a third-round game Thursday, Ball State dared Kansas State to shoot from the outside and got burned. Led by three-time All-Big 12 first-teamer Brittany Chambers, who went 5 for 7 from three-point range, the Wildcats scored 36 of their 60 points from beyond the arc. K-State’s sharpshooters don’t play favorites. This team has made five or more treys in each of its last 29 games and keeps adding to its Big 12 single-season record for three-pointers (314). “It’s going be important that we’re out on the perimeter and pressuring the basketball,” Illini coach Matt Bollant said.
Illinois also can be a major threat from beyond the arc. In their win Thursday at Toledo, the Illini sank seven three-pointers to tie the single-season school record with 181. In the process, Amber Moore tied the UI record for single-season treys with her 84th. The redshirt junior guard is enjoying a remarkable postseason, shooting 42.9 percent from three-point range (12 of 28) while averaging 19.7 points. “Amber has been great in the WNIT,” Illini center Karisma Penn said. “Looking ahead to next year, if she keeps that up, I think it’s a great steppingstone for her.” There is one immediate danger sign for the Illini, however. Moore hasn’t been getting much help lately from beyond the arc. Her teammates collectively are shooting 18.5 percent (5 of 27) on three-pointers in the WNIT.
K-State coach Deb Patterson is a Rockford native with an extensive coaching resume in her home state. The 17th-year Wildcats coach began her career in 1983 as head coach at Rockton Hononegah High School, inheriting a program that went 0-22 the season before her arrival. Within four seasons, the Indians were 21-2. Patterson entered the college ranks at Northern Illinois, where she was an assistant coach from 1988 to ’91. During her tenure, the Huskies had three consecutive 20-win seasons and an NCAA tournament appearance. She also was an assistant for one season at Southern Illinois, when the Salukis went 20-5 and reached the second round of the NCAA tournament. Bollant said their paths crossed several times while recruiting players on the Minnesota Stars AAU team. Besides Chambers, that club produced such Big Ten players as Michigan’s Kate Thompson and Wisconsin’s Cassie Rochel. Bollant is 1-0 against K-State, his Wisconsin-Green Bay team defeating Patterson’s 2007-08 Big 12 champions.
Prediction: Illinois 69, Kansas State 65
Like the Illini, K-State received an automatic bid to the WNIT for being the highest finisher in its conference that did not make the NCAA tournament. The fact that the Wildcats tied for eighth with a 5-13 record and still got an automatic bid tells you all you need to know about the crucible that is Big 12 women’s basketball. “The best conference in the country,” Bollant said. The Wildcats also are in their element. K-State is 12-0 in WNIT games played in Manhattan and has reached the quarterfinals in three of its four WNIT appearances. In addition, the Wildcats are 5-2 in their last seven games, with both losses to top-ranked Baylor. Reasons enough to pick against Illinois? We say no. The win at Toledo should be a major confidence-booster. And with no K-State defender taller than 5-11 — the injury-depleted Wildcats are down to seven players — Penn should rule the paint. Illinois can’t be lax, however, in contesting the Wildcats’ dangerous long-range attack. (N-G record: 21-11)