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Minnesota Holds Off UCLA

March 22, 2004|From Times Wire Services

UCLA, nearly surprising the hometown favorites before a crowd of 12,357 at Minneapolis, pushed seventh-seeded Minnesota until the final minute, then fell out of the first round of the NCAA women's basketball tournament, 92-81, Sunday.

The 10th-seeded Bruins (17-13) got 33 points from sophomore point guard Nikki Blue, who scored 20 of her points after halftime and tied the score, 79-79, with 1:30 left, before fouling out in the final seconds.

It was not enough to match Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen, the school's all-time leading scorer, who had 31 points in her first game since sitting out more than five weeks because of two broken bones in her right (shooting) hand.

With the score tied, 79-79, Whalen responded with a driving layup, then added two free throws with 41 seconds left to give the Golden Golphers (22-8) a four-point lead.

On the ensuing possession, a controversial foul call drew UCLA Coach Kathy Olivier well off the bench and resulted in a technical foul as the Gophers pulled away in a march to the free-throw line.

Minnesota center Janel McCarville, who sat out because of foul trouble midway through the second half, added 19 points and 17 rebounds for the Gophers.

Freshmen Lisa Willis and Noelle Quinn each scored 15 points for UCLA. They joined Blue in helping the Bruins surge from an 11-point deficit, at 54-43, after a three-point play by Kadidja Andersson with 14:59 left.

UCLA didn't have the brawn to move McCarville around in the middle, but the Bruins made a game of it with their quickness on defense and ability to drive through the middle of the Gopher defense.

A 16-4 surge gave UCLA the lead back midway through the second half, and it was close the rest of the way.

Whalen, a 5-foot-9 senior guard who has helped resurrect the program from an 8-20 record her freshman year to a third consecutive NCAA tournament appearance this season, made the pivotal plays for Minnesota.

Her return not only gave the Gophers a scoring lift, it improved their balance on offense. Minnesota's Shannon Schonrock finished with 15 points, all on three-point shots, and Andersson scored 14 points on six-for-nine shooting.

Minnesota will play No. 2-seeded Kansas State Tuesday in a second-round game at Minneapolis.

Kansas State 71, Valparaiso 63 -- The 15th-seeded Crusaders tried Hack-an-Ohlde, and it backfired.

Wildcat center Nicole Ohlde, a 67% free-throw shooter, scored 25 points, setting career highs by making 15 of 21 from the line, to lead second-seeded Kansas State (25-5) over Valparaiso (20-12).

The 21 free throws tied an NCAA record for a first- or second-round game set by Harvard's Allison Feaster against Stanford in 1998.

"Definitely didn't expect that," said a smiling Ohlde, who made 12 of 14 free throws in the first half.

Jamie Gutowski had 20 points to lead Valparaiso, which dropped to 0-2 all-time in the NCAA tournament.

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