WEST LAFAYETTE – One thing to keep in mind when Purdue and South Dakota State play in the first round of the womens NCAA tournament today at Mackey Arena: neither team is going to get tired.
With mirror 24-8 records, the strategy within both camps this season has been one of attrition. Wear down the opponent, then beat them up.
In some ways it paid off for Purdue by winning the Big Ten tournament championship for the first time in four seasons, and it paid off for the Jackrabbits by claiming the Summit League tournament title.
Because both teams have long benches, the chances are slim that the Boilermakers or Jackrabbits will get weary.
South Dakota State, which claimed three wins over IPFW this season, has 11 players who have played at least 29 of the 32 games. Jennie Sunnarborg (14.3 points per game), Jill Young (12.0) and Ashley Eide (11.0) average double figures.
Purdue has only two who average similar figures: Brittany Rayburn is at 14.9 and Courtney Moses is 10.4. While scoring averages for the remaining regulars range from 9.7 (KK Houser) to 1.3 (Dee Dee Williams), its the playing time that remains remarkably close.
Its always a cliché when they say that its a team, Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. This group is a team. Every game, someone else has really stepped up. Thats the biggest thing right now is we have nine to 10 deep – sometimes 11 deep. When people are called on, they come in and do their job. If our top scorers arent scoring, then someone else steps up and does the job. Thats why weve been so successful.
Purdue used the formula throughout the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis. Rayburn led the way with 14 points and Sam Ostarello had 11 rebounds in a 73-64 opening win over Michigan State.
Courtney Moses had 21 points in the 68-66 semifinal win over Penn State
The Boilers were led by Housers 19 points with 11 coming from Chantel Poston in the 74-70 double-overtime win over Nebraska in the championship game.
The Boilermakers got ready for the tournament with 60-49 win Feb. 23 at Michigan – a victory that buried a stretch in which Purdue had lost five of its last six games.
Thats when we got into tournament mode, Versyp said. We won (in Ann Arbor), beat IU here (90-58), then won three games in a row.
We took some time off; still had high-energy practices, and now that you know your destiny again, now you get that mental, emotional feeling back. Winning the Big Ten tournament still carries over; youre still pretty excited.