BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (AP) -- Kansas State found a replacement for injured star Kimberly Dietz in Kelsey Nelson and ended the nation's longest winning streak.
The little-used reserve scored a career-high 20 points to help fifth-seeded Kansas State snap No. 12 Chattanooga's 24-game streak with a 69-59 victory Sunday in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Wildcats set a tournament record by hitting all 21 free-throw attempts.
With K-State playing its first game without leading scorer Kimberly Dietz (season-ending injury in Big 12 tourney), junior Kelsey Nelson -- who has played in just 13 games this year, averaging 1.8 points and 5.9 minutes -- naturally led the Wildcats with a career-high 20 points. She had scored a TOTAL of 23 points during the season.
Season vs. Sunday
"There was no way I could have expected she would explode offensively like she did," Kansas State coach Deb Patterson said. "In this magnitude game for her to perform at this level was really impressive."Shalee Lehning added 12 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists for Kansas State (22-9), which will play Louisville on Tuesday night in the second round of the New Orleans regional.Laura Hall scored 19 points and Brooke Hand added 15, hitting five 3-pointers for Chattanooga (29-4).The Lady Mocs last lost Dec. 1 to Alabama A&M. Chattanooga's only other losses this season were to Tennessee and Louisville.The Lady Mocs hadn't really prepared for Nelson. Who could blame them?"She hadn't played very much at all and we didn't anticipate this," Chattanooga coach Wes Moore said. "Nelson was waiting for her opportunity and took advantage of it."Trailing 37-31 early in the second half, Kansas State went on a 14-4 run. Nelson scored seven straight points during the spurt to give the Wildcats a 45-41 lead with 9:17 left. The junior guard easily surpassed her career highs in points (five) and minutes (13).Patterson was forced to turn to Nelson after Dietz hurt her knee in the Wildcats' loss to Iowa State in the Big 12 tournament. Dietz had been averaging almost 14 points."I don't know if I could be much happier," Nelson said. "I prepared the same way, and knew I could step up if my chance came."The teams traded baskets until Shanara Hollinquest hit one of two free throws with 3:25 left to cut the deficit to 56-55. The Wildcats scored the next four points to extend the lead to 60-55 on Ashley Sweat's layup.Hall answered with back-to-back baskets to make it 60-59 with 1:22 remaining.Lehning converted a three-point play to restore the four-point lead with 1:08 to go, and the Wildcats sealed the win from the foul line.Rhode Island held the previous record for most free throws without a miss, going 15-for-15 against Oklahoma State in the first round of the 1996 tournament.Kansas State shut down Alex Anderson, the Southern Conference player of the year. She scored just nine points, nearly eight under her average. She was just 3-for-14 from the field."They played good defense and my shots weren't falling," Anderson said.After a sluggish start for both teams that saw Chattanooga leading 10-9 midway through the first half, the offense picked up. Kansas State scored seven straight points, capped by Nelson's 3-pointer, before Hand got hot. She hit three straight 3-pointers for the Lady Mocs to give Chattanooga a 22-18 lead with 6:22 left before break.The Wildcats closed the half with a 7-2 spurt to take a 25-24 lead.