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
"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
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
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
"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."