Purdue shuts down inside game of UM, 74-48 59-percent shooting puts Boilermakers in command

March 15, 1997|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,SUN STAFF

NORFOLK, Va. -- For a minute at the start of the second half of last night's first-round NCAA Mideast regional game, Maryland women's coach Chris Weller thought the Terps were doing just what they wanted to do.

The Terps were penetrating to the basket, forcing Purdue back on its heels and drawing fouls, three of them to be precise, within a 13-second span.

When Maryland didn't seize that moment, however, the Boilermakers made a few opportunities of their own, bolting to a 15-0 run over five minutes that broke the Terps' spirit and ended their season with an ugly 74-48 loss.

Ninth-seeded Maryland (18-10), which at one point in the season possessed the nation's stingiest defense and a 9-1 record, collapsed on the defensive end, allowing Purdue, the eighth seed, to hit 63 percent from the floor in the second half and 59 percent overall for the game.

"That was a great team effort by Purdue," Weller said. "We just felt sooner or later they were going to cool off. It wasn't as if we didn't try, but we couldn't keep them from hitting."

Purdue's acknowledged stars, point guard Stephanie White and forward Jannon Roland, had their usual games with 18 and 17 points, respectively. But it was little-known freshman Mackenzie Curless, the lowest-scoring player in the Boilermakers starting lineup, who hit eight of nine shots and had 18 points.

Weller said that in the game films she and her coaching staff had seen Curless, a 6-1 freshman from Martinsville, Ind., take just two short jumpers, and the game plan was to try to limit White and Roland, the Big Ten Player of the Year.

"The kid that we let go did what they [Roland and White] were supposed to do," said Weller. "We were really hoping Curless would do a lot offensively, but not be as effective as she was."

The Boilermakers, meanwhile, were impressive on the defensive end as well, limiting Maryland's attempts to penetrate and forcing the Terps to shoot from the outside. The four Maryland guards who played on the perimeter -- Kim Bretz, Tiffany Brown, Lillian Purvis and Sonia Chase (McDonogh) -- hit just nine of 34 shots from the floor.

"We started sagging off," Purdue coach Nell Fortner said. "We were not going to get beaten on penetration. They were going to have to beat us over the top. Stopping their penetration gave us confidence that we could shut them down."

The Terps, who produced their fewest points in 23 NCAA tournament games covering 11 appearances, closed an 11-point deficit to six late in the first half. Bretz, who like Chase had 10 points, scored the last four points of the half on a drive and two subsequent free throws.

Foul trouble quickly took away whatever emotional edge Maryland might have had. Playing with only a seven-player rotation, two starters, Chase and Stephanie Cross, ended the half with two fouls each and center Kalisa Davis had three.

Cross, who led the Terps with 13 points and 13 rebounds, then picked up two fouls within a minute early in the half, and Maryland, which needed to gamble defensively to force the tempo, couldn't.

Then came the run. White and Curless each had five points in the spurt, and Ukari Figgs hit Purdue's only three-pointer with 15: 24 to go that boosted the lead to 17 and effectively left the Terps walking the floor for the rest of the game in a daze.

Purdue advanced to tomorrow's game against No. 2 Old Dominion, the top seed in the region, which pounded 16th seed Liberty, 102-52, before a sellout crowd of 4,855.

Pub Date: 3/15/97

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