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Vanderbilt holds off Wildcats rally to advance

SEATTLE (AP) -- Ashley Earley and her Vanderbilt teammates knew
Kansas State was 0-7 when the Wildcats score under 62 points.

Make that 0-8.

Carla Thomas scored 18 points and fifth-seeded Vanderbilt
overcame a late Kansas State rally to beat the fourth-seeded
Wildcats 63-60 on Monday night in the second round of the NCAA
Tournament.

"I think they scored 60," Earley said. "This is something we
talked about before the season."

Kansas State senior Laurie Koehn broke the NCAA record for
3-pointers, hitting three to finish her career with 392. Erin Thorn
of BYU made 391 from 1999-03.

"They did a good job defending us tonight," Koehn said. "They
took us out of our offense a lot."

Vanderbilt (24-7) will play top-seeded Michigan State on Sunday
in Kansas City. Kansas State (24-8) lost in the second round of the
tournament for the third straight year, ending hopes of playing
close to home next week.

The Commodores built a 57-43 lead with 7 minutes left, but
Kansas State went on a 13-2 run, closing to 59-56 on Koehn's
record-breaking 3 with 1:23 left.

Thomas scored for Vanderbilt to make it 61-56, but Brie Madden
made two baskets for Kansas State to cut it to 61-60 with 5 seconds
left.

After a timeout, Vanderbilt's Earley broke free at midcourt,
caught a perfectly thrown pass from Abi Ramsey and made a breakaway
layup with 2.1 seconds left. Kansas State had a final chance to
force overtime, but Kimberly Dietz's desperation 3-point attempt
fell well short.

"I knew they would come back," Vanderbilt coach Melanie
Balcomb said.

Thomas and Earley, who had 17 points, controlled the interior
for Vanderbilt.

Kendra Wecker led Kansas State with 29 points, and Claire
Coggins added 14.

Kansas State led by eight early, but made just two field goals
the final 9:54 of the first half.

Trailing 20-12, Vanderbilt took control, closing the half on a
22-5 run. Thomas scored eight points during the run and Dee Davis
added seven as the Commodores led 34-25 at the break.

Wecker and the Wildcats rallied early in the second half. Wecker
scored nine of Kansas State's first 11 second-half points as the
Wildcats closed to 40-36.

But Vanderbilt followed with a 14-3 run. Davis scored six points
to push the lead to 52-39 before the Wildcats' final rally.

Koehn was just 3-of-13 on 3s and was harassed all-night by
Vanderbilt's Davis and Ramsey. Even when Koehn had open looks, she
struggled to make shots.

"I was really proud of our defensive execution," Balcomb said.
"We never let her get in her rhythm."

Vanderbilt advanced to the regional semifinals for the fourth
time in the last five years and improved to 24-6 in first- and
second-round games.

Last year, as a No. 2 seed, Kansas State lost to Minnesota 80-61
in Minneapolis. In 2003, Kansas State was a No. 3 seed and lost at
home to 11th-seeded Notre Dame 59-53.