MANHATTAN, Kan. – Kimberly Dietz scored a game-high 19 points and Kansas State continued its WNIT magic with a 66-51 victory over Illinois in third round action at Bramlage Coliseum Thursday night.
Claire Coggins came off the bench to score 12 points and Shana Wheeler added 10 points and eight boards for Kansas State (18-14), which steadily pulled away during the second half to win its seventh postseason WNIT game in a row.
The Wildcats improved to 8-1 all time in the postseason WNIT and will host Auburn, an 81-73 winner at Virginia Tech, in the quarterfinals Sunday at 2 p.m.
Jenna Smith scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Lori Bjork finished with13 points to lead Illinois (19-12), which outrebounded K-State 40-25 but committed 20 turnovers.
Ten of those Illini turnovers resulted from steals by the Wildcats, who led 43-40 with 12:15 to go before scoring nine straight points, including six by Wheeler, to take control of the game.
Dietz shot 5-for-9 from beyond the arc drilled three treys in the final 10 minutes as the Wildcats maintained a double-digit lead for most of the final six minutes.
Illinois got as close as nine at 60-51 on a layup by Stephanie Chelleen with 2:29 to play but could get no closer as K-State tallied the final six points of the game, including a jumper by Kari Kincaid with 9.5 seconds remaining that provided the final margin.
Kansas State jumped out to an early 11-7 lead midway through the first half before hitting a dry spell that allowed Illinois to make a run.
Illinois used its inside game to key the spurt as the Illini, who outscored K-State 18-8 in the paint over the first 20 minutes, hit six straight layups, including three by Smith, to forge a 19-14 lead.
But the Wildcats responded with a 13-5 spurt of their own to go on top 27-24 heading into the final minute. Coggins scored the first six points of the run, which was capped by a Kincaid jumper.
Rebecca Harris stopped the bleeding just before the break for the Illini to make it 27-26 K-State at intermission.