Wildcats Win NCAA Opener

Kansas State forward Brie Madden puts up a shot over the arms of numerous Harvard defenders during the first round.

March 24, 2003

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By CHUCK SCHOFFNER
AP Sports Writer

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kendra Wecker scored 21 points and Nicole Ohlde added20 on near-perfect shooting as Kansas State beat Harvard 79-69 Sunday in afirst-round East Regional game that was much tougher than expected for thethird-seeded Wildcats.

Kansas State (29-4) had to fight off Harvard down the stretch after the14th-seeded Crimson sliced a 19-point lead to eight with 3 ? minutes remaining.But Harvard (22-5) couldn't get any closer and had its 16-game winning streakbroken.

Laurie Koehn scored 17 points for Kansas State despite making just 4-of-14shots. She sank five free throws in the final minute to help secure the victoryand send the Wildcats into a second-round game Tuesday night against11th-seeded Notre Dame.

Notre Dame advanced with a 59-47 upset of sixth-seeded Arizona.

Reka Cserny led Harvard with 25 points before fouling out. Hana Peljto, theIvy League Player of the Year, had 15 points but shot just 4-for-15. BeverlyMoore, the smallest player on the floor at 5-foot-2, scored 14 for the IvyLeague champs.

With slick inside moves, Ohlde made her first seven shots and finished8-of-9 to help Kansas State lead from the start.

Ahead by eight early in the second half, the Wildcats seemed on the verge ofbreaking it open when Chelsea Domenico and Koehn hit three-pointers just 23 secondsapart. Domenico connected from the left wing and Koehn was mistakenly left wideopen at the top of the key.

Wecker then stole an inbounds pass and went in for a layup, stretching thelead to 53-37 with 16:11 left. The Wildcats got the lead up to 58-39 but stillcouldn't shake their feisty opponent.

Cserny, a 6-3 sophomore who gave Kansas State problems with some unorthodoxmoves, scored the next eight Harvard points to keep the Crimson within strikingdistance. Her turnaround jumper from the right baseline left Harvard trailing60-47 and her team continued to chip away after that, even after she fouled outwith 5:56 remaining.

Kate Ides' three-pointer from the top of the key cut the lead to 67-58 and shemade another three, this one from the right wing, to draw Harvard to 69-61 with3:29 left. The Crimson had two chances to get closer, but Peljto missed adriving shot, and Moore threw up an airball trying to beat the shot clock withjust over a minute to play.

Kansas State finally nailed down the victory by sinking 9-of-11 free throwsin the final 1:03. Wecker made a big play by rebounding one of the misses whenthe lead was 70-61. That led to a pair of free throws by Koehn, making it 72-61with 57.4 seconds left.