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Wildcats Win NCAA Opener

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

March 24, 2003

Final Stats?|? Quotes?|? Notes

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AP Sports Writer

MANHATTAN, Kan. - Kendra Wecker scored 21 points and Nicole Ohlde added 20 on near-perfect shooting as Kansas State beat Harvard 79-69 Sunday in a first-round East Regional game that was much tougher than expected for the third-seeded Wildcats.

Kansas State (29-4) had to fight off Harvard down the stretch after the 14th-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 streak broken.

Laurie Koehn scored 17 points for Kansas State despite making just 4-of-14 shots. She sank five free throws in the final minute to help secure the victory and send the Wildcats into a second-round game Tuesday night against 11th-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, the Ivy League Player of the Year, had 15 points but shot just 4-for-15. Beverly Moore, the smallest player on the floor at 5-foot-2, scored 14 for the Ivy League champs.

With slick inside moves, Ohlde made her first seven shots and finished 8-of-9 to help Kansas State lead from the start.

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

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

Cserny, a 6-3 sophomore who gave Kansas State problems with some unorthodox moves, scored the next eight Harvard points to keep the Crimson within striking distance. Her turnaround jumper from the right baseline left Harvard trailing 60-47 and her team continued to chip away after that, even after she fouled out with 5:56 remaining.

Kate Ides' three-pointer from the top of the key cut the lead to 67-58 and she made another three, this one from the right wing, to draw Harvard to 69-61 with 3:29 left. The Crimson had two chances to get closer, but Peljto missed a driving shot, and Moore threw up an airball trying to beat the shot clock with just over a minute to play.

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