9:30 PM ET, March 21, 2004
Hilton Coliseum, Ames, Iowa
AMES, Iowa (AP) -- One good run was all Purdue needed to shake off an upset bid by its scrappy opponent. It just took awhile for the Boilermakers to put it together.Trailing by two with under six minutes to play in the first half, second-seeded Purdue finally took control with a 15-2 run spanning halftime and beat St. Francis 78-59 Sunday night in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.Shereka Wright and Erin Lawless scored 17 points apiece to lead the Boilermakers (28-3), who'll play seventh-seeded Villanova in a second-round game Tuesday night."I think in the second half we had much more of a sense of urgency," Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. "That's what you've got to have at this time of year."St. Francis (25-6), seeded 15th, never recovered from Purdue's burst and saw its 20-game winning streak end despite an outstanding effort by center Beth Swink. Swink made all 10 of her shots in scoring 28 points and grabbed 14 rebounds.The Red Flames fell to 0-8 in first-round games, but the Pennsylvania school was much more competitive in this one after losing their first seven NCAA tournament games by an average margin of 39 points.Erika Valek added 15 points and Lindsey Hicks had 14 for third-ranked Purdue, which got a bonus from Lawless' scoring. Averaging only 6.7 points, Lawless went 7-for-11 from the field with a 3-pointer. She helped keep the Boilermakers going until Wright, just 2-for-6 in the first half, got untracked."She's not always going to score 30 points a game," Lawless said. "We know when situations like that happen, she has a team around her and we're all capable of stepping up."Karen Hewitt, a 5-foot-6 senior, was mainly responsible for keeping it close early. Tormenting the Boilermakers with her quickness and penetration, she had 10 first-half points on 4-for-5 shooting and handed out three assists. She finished with 12 points and seven assists.A No. 15 seed has never beaten a No. 2 seed since the women's tournament expanded to 64 teams in 1994, but St. Francis looked capable during its solid first half."I think we had a lot of believers, coming out of that first half, that we are for real," St. Francis coach Jill Poe said.With Hewitt getting baskets or setting up teammates, the Red Flash stayed with the Boilermakers step for step. They recovered from a 6-0 deficit to take a 22-20 lead on Hewitt's 15-foot jumper with 5:39 left.There were three ties after that, the last at 27-all on Swink's basket inside. Katie Gearlds then connected from under the basket for Purdue and teammate Beth Jones stole the ball, setting up a bucket by Valek that made it 31-27. The Boilermakers led from then on.They scored the final three points of the half after St. Francis drew to 32-30, then pulled away in the second half despite an inauspicious start. Wright missed a breakaway layup in the opening minute, but she made a leaner the next time she touched the ball and the Boilermakers dominated the rest of the way."The first five minutes (of the second half), it definitely was a turnaround from where it was closer to not necessarily out of reach, but I think we put ourselves in a hole," Hewitt said.Emily Heikes got three baskets inside as Purdue stretched its lead to 47-32. A 3-pointer by Lawless started an 8-2 run that made it 59-40, and the Boilermakers led by as many as 21.
|FG Made-Attempted||24-59 (.407)||32-61 (.525)|
|3P Made-Attempted||3-15 (.200)||2-6 (.333)|
|FT Made-Attempted||8-13 (.615)||12-21 (.571)|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||16 (0/0)||19 (0/0)|