Valparaiso 63

(20-12, 12-5 Horizon)

Kansas State 71

(25-5, 14-2 Big 12)

    12:00 PM ET, March 21, 2004

    1 2 T
    VALP 35 2863
    KSU 41 3071

    Top Performers

    Valparaiso: J. Gutowski 17 Pts, 1 Reb

    Kansas St: N. Ohlde 25 Pts, 4 Reb

    Ohlde leads K-State past Valparaiso

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Free-throw shooting has never been one of Nicole Ohlde's strengths.

    But for the NCAA tournament, the Kansas State center -- a 67-percent career foul-line shooter -- will make an exception.

    "This is tournament time," Ohlde said. "Hopefully I can step up and make some free throws."

    Ohlde scored 25 points, 15 off free throws, to lead Kansas State past Valparaiso 71-63 on Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament. Her 15 made foul shots and 21 attempts were both career highs, and the 21 attempts tied an NCAA record for a first- or second-round game set by Harvard's Allison Feaster against Stanford in 1998.

    "Definitely didn't expect that," a smiling Ohlde said.

    The second-seeded Wildcats will play seventh-seeded Minnesota in Tuesday's Mideast Regional second-round game. The host Gophers, who beat UCLA 92-81 on Sunday, are sure to have a packed, raucous Williams Arena behind them against the Wildcats.

    Valpo had some loud supporters of its own on Saturday.

    "It was a great showcase as to what the NCAA tournament is all about," Wildcats coach Deb Patterson said.

    Ohlde put on a free-throw line showcase, calmly going 12-for-14 in the first half.

    "I felt confident from the line," Ohlde said. "The coaches have been working with me."

    Kendra Wecker added 15 points and Laurie Koehn 14 for the Wildcats.

    Meghan Mahoney chipped in 11 points for the Cats to move past the 1,000-point mark in her career. She now has 1,001.

    Wecker also set a school milestone. She now has 1,716 career points, moving her past Diana Miller for second place on the all-time scoring list. Ohlde is first with 2,218 points and is also the school's all-time leading rebounder.

    Eager to erase the sting of last year's heartbreaking second-round loss to Notre Dame on their home floor, the Wildcats (25-5) jumped out to big leads in both halves only to watch Valpo (20-12) creep back.

    Jamie Gutowski had 20 points and Jenna Stangler added 10 for the 15th-seeded Crusaders, who saw their five-game winning streak stopped and fell to 0-2 all-time in the NCAA tournament.

    The Crusaders took some solace in their scrappiness.

    "We didn't let them break it open," Gutowski said. "There's a lot of character on this team."

    Wecker's 3-pointer at the 12:23 mark gave the Wildcats a 60-44 lead. But Valpo scored 12 unanswered points to cut the lead to 60-56.

    Suzie Hammel, who sat out part of the game after a hard spill in the first half, drained a 3-pointer with 6:41 remaining to make it 62-59. The teams traded free throws before Ohlde scored inside and Chelsea Domenico hit a mid-range jumper to give the Wildcats a 67-60 cushion with 3:20 to play.

    After adding a free throw, the Crusaders came up empty on two straight possessions and Domenico added a baseline jumper to seal it.

    "There are a lot of positives you can gain from a first-round game that is tight," Patterson said. "Now that it's over, I feel very comfortable about our next game."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 63 71
    FG Made-Attempted 18-51 (.353) 24-45 (.533)
    3P Made-Attempted 7-16 (.438) 6-15 (.400)
    FT Made-Attempted 20-24 (.833) 20-27 (.741)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 17 (0/0) 18 (0/0)

    Game Leaders

    PointsJ. Gutowski 17N. Ohlde 25
    ReboundsJ. Stangler 8K. Wecker 11


    » Mar 21, 2004 @KSU 71, VALP 63Recap | Box Score