HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. – Drey Mingo couldn’t help but think about her coach’s vow. Now, consider it a promise kept.
Mingo scored 24 points, and Purdue won its second straight Big Ten tournament championship, beating Michigan State 62-47 on Sunday.
The Boilermakers (24-8) led by as many as 23 points in the first half and were up 19 at the break before things got a little tense down the stretch. The Spartans (24-8) pulled within nine, but back-to-back three-pointers by Courtney Moses and a key turnover helped preserve the win for Purdue, giving the Boilermakers a league-best nine tournament titles.
A big reason for this one was Mingo.
She scored as many points in the first half as Michigan State did, setting the tone as Purdue took a 33-14 lead, and she finished with eight rebounds and three blocks in the game.
It was a dominant performance by a redshirt senior whose college career has taken a few twists.
She transferred to Purdue after her sophomore season at Maryland and had to sit out a year. She was the team’s second-leading scorer and top rebounder as a junior in 2010-11 but had to sit out last season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee in scrimmage at Indiana State in late October.
Mingo wasn’t sure she’d be granted another year of eligibility by the NCAA, but that came in April, a few weeks after Purdue won the conference tournament and her coach made one big promise.
I’ll never forget Coach V looked me in my face after we won last year and said we will get back, she said. I’m so happy that we did. I’m elated right now.
Actually, Sharon Versyp remembers telling her that Purdue will be back and she’ll lead the Boilermakers to the conference championship.
She’s a walking miracle, Versyp said. She’s an inspiration. I’m just so happy that things worked out the way it did for her and our team.
Another story surrounding the Boilermakers is director of basketball operations Terry Kix’s fight with stomach cancer. She watched Sunday as Mingo dominated, Moses scored 16 and the Boilermakers shot just under 49 percent.
Jasmine Thomas led Michigan State with 15 points and seven rebounds.
Michigan State’s Becca Mills made things interesting when she hit two free throws to make it 46-37 with 5:53 left, but Moses answered with a three and buried another one after Mills turned the ball over to make it a 15-point game.