7:00 PM ET, March 23, 2004
James H. Hilton Coliseum, Ames, IA
AMES, Iowa (AP) -- One thing had to happen for Purdue to beat Villanova."Basically, we had to make some shots," Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. "And we sure made some."Did they ever. The Boilermakers hit 13 of 16 shots in the second half, outscoring Villanova 34-17, and advanced to the round of 16 in the NCAA women's basketball tournament with a 60-42 victory Tuesday night."Not many teams can shoot 13 of 16 in a half," Villanova coach Harry Perretta said, "even if you don't guard them."Shereka Wright scored 15 of her 19 points in the second half to lead second-seeded Purdue (29-3) into the West Regional semifinals. The Boilermakers will play third-seeded Georgia (24-9) in Seattle on Saturday.It will be the third appearance in the round of 16 in four years for Purdue, which shut down Villanova completely in the second half. The Wildcats (23-7) managed only seven points in the first 16 minutes of the half and shot 5-for-22 in the period."We were pushing them out and not allowing them to penetrate, and I think that frustrated them a bit," Wright said. "I think being aggressive was the whole key to the defensive end."Wright, chosen a second-team All-American earlier in the day, bounced back after going 1-for-7 in the first half. Freshman Katie Gearlds made all six of her shots in scoring 13 points, including two key baskets to revive the Boilermakers when they were struggling in the first half.Valek, Purdue's senior point guard, contributed nine points, five rebounds and three assists after going scoreless in the first half."It's an all-time high -- the best offensive end and the best defensive end," Curry said. "I'm just very thankful and feel very blessed. I just want to keep it going."Seventh-seeded Villanova led by as many as eight in the first half and was up 28-23 at halftime, but was done in by a 13-0 run that gave Purdue a 44-33. Villanova's deliberate offense is not made for coming from behind and the Wildcats never threatened again in this one.Liad Suez led Villanova with 12 points and Jackie Adamshick scored 11."In the first half, we could have beaten anybody in the country," Perretta said. "The second half, we couldn't have beaten a fifth-grade team."Villanova led for the final time at 33-31 on a 3-pointer by Suez with 16:06 left. The Wildcats would not score again for more than six minutes and Purdue took control, starting its decisive run with Wright on the bench.Valek got it going with a pull-up jumper, Gearlds contributed a pair of jumpers and Wright returned to sink two free throws and convert a three-point play off a layup to cap the burst.After Adamshick scored on a drive, Purdue came back with 10 straight points to put it out of reach at 53-35 with 4:06 remaining."It just kind of snowballed," Suez said. "A couple of shots went in fairly easy and then we couldn't make anything."Purdue managed to stay close in the first half despite missing shot after shot and going nearly six minutes without a point.The Wildcats, meanwhile, ran their patterns perfectly during that stretch and scored 10 straight points, mostly by beating their defenders off the dribble.Courtney Mix scored on a drive, Adamshick hit a fadeaway from the right block and then drove for a layup, Jennifer Hilgenberg made a fadeaway from the right side and Suez drove for a basket to finish the run, making it 24-16.Gearlds' 3 from the right corner ended Purdue's drought, and two late baskets, a turnaround by Gearlds and a leaner by Erin Lawless, helped the Boilermakers get to within five at the half."We always come back," Valek said. "We decided to forget the first half and just focus on stepping up, playing better defense and going after rebounds."
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