for this game

Griffin, No. 3 Nebraska top Kansas State 63-46

Mar 12, 2010 - 9:51 PM By ERIC OLSON AP Sports Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo.(AP) -- Nebraska's shots weren't falling, and the third-ranked and unbeaten Cornhuskers were feeling the pressure against Kansas State.

Enter Kelsey Griffin, who scored 16 of her 24 points in the first nine minutes of the second half to help the Huskers overpower Kansas State 63-46 in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 tournament Friday.

"Yeah, she kind of has a way of doing that," Nebraska coach Connie Yori said. "Kelsey can dominate a game. I felt like we didn't get her the ball enough in the first half, and we talked a little bit about that."

The Big 12 player of the year scored in the low post, off the dribble and off the offensive glass to send the Huskers (30-0) into a Saturday semifinal against 11th-ranked Texas A&M.

More important, the win might have locked up a No. 1 seed for Nebraska in the NCAA tournament.

"I'm not on the committee, but I do think this was an important game for us and puts us in a great position," Yori said. "Regardless of who we play tomorrow, we're going to play a top-20 RPI team, so this game, I thought, was very important."

The ninth-seeded Wildcats (14-18) gave the Huskers all they could handle early. Nebraska led 27-26 at the half despite shooting 33 percent and missing all 12 of its 3-pointers.

The halftime conversation wasn't pleasant.

"It was basically that that wasn't us out there," Griffin said. "We were playing hard defense, and we were happy about that. But we know we are a better shooting team than we showed, we can take care of the ball better and we have better chemistry on offense. We went out there and tried to prove it."

The Huskers ended up missing 18 3-pointers in a row before Cory Montgomery scored from long distance with 7:44 left in the game.

Because of Griffin, those shooting problems weren't an issue.

The senior forward scored nine points during an 11-5 run that turned a 32-31 Nebraska lead into a 43-36 bulge.

"I think in the first half we did a great job of defending her," K-State's Ashley Sweat said. "Great players are going to have halves like that."

A 13-2 spurt all but finished off the Wildcats, and the lead grew to 21 points in the last three minutes.

Kansas State suited up just seven players. Kelsey Hill, Shalin Spani and Alina Voronenko sat out with injuries, and Kari Kincaid limped off the court in the second half

The Huskers' uptempo game took a toll on the Wildcats, who were playing for the second straight day after beating Texas Tech 59-51 on Thursday.

"Obviously, depth was a really big factor today, especially once Kari got a little nicked up," K-State coach Deb Patterson said. "At that point, I think the game had run away from us a bit."

The game played out much like Saturday's regular-season game in Manhattan, Kan., where Griffin scored a career-high 36 points to lead the Huskers to an 82-72 victory after they had trailed 45-38 at halftime.

"I don't feel like I have to take anything upon myself," Griffin said. "My teammates do a great job of putting me in successful positions. ... There were defensive stops that people were coming up with, and defensive rebounds, and it might have looked like I was going on a run. But it was a team-concerted effort to be able to do that."

Griffin also had 10 rebounds, giving her 18 double-doubles for the season.

Montgomery had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Dominique Kelley added 11 points for Nebraska, which won a conference tournament game for the first time since 2006.

Jalana Childs and Kari Kincaid led K-State with 10 points apiece.

K-State had chances to tie or take the lead early in the second half. But Brittany Chambers missed two free throws when the Wildcats were down by a point, and Griffin drew charges from Sweat and Childs.

The Wildcats played Nebraska tough in the first half despite committing 15 of their 23 turnovers and missing 11 of their first 14 shots.

K-State shot 42 percent the first 20 minutes but just 27 percent the second 20.

"Well, I liked the first half," Patterson said. "Obviously, in the second half, we just didn't establish any firepower on the offensive end of the floor. The magnitude of any make by Nebraska in the second half is really intensified when we're not making conversions on the offensive end."