NCAA women

April 01, 2001|By Milton Kent

NCAA women

Tonight's title game

Purdue (31-6) vs. Notre Dame (33-2)

Site: Savvis Center, St. Louis

Time: 8:30

TV: ESPN

Route to the title game: Purdue beat UC-Santa Barbara, 75-62; Louisiana State, 73-70; Texas Tech, 74-72; Xavier, 88-78; and Southwest Missouri State, 81-64. Notre Dame beat Alcorn State, 98-49; Michigan, 88-54; Utah, 69-54; Vanderbilt, 72-64; and Connecticut, 90-75.

Coaches: Purdue's Kristy Curry is 54-14 in two seasons, both at Purdue. Muffet McGraw is 409-158 in 19 seasons as a coach, 321-117 in 14 years at Notre Dame.

Purdue's key starters: Senior G/F Katie Douglas showed Friday night why she's an All-American, turning in a bravura performance that included helping shut down Southwest Missouri State's Jackie Stiles and scoring 25 points from the point guard slot. Senior C Camille Cooper had 16 points and 10 rebounds against SMS.

Notre Dame's key starters: The Irish may have the best starters in the game, and they were all on display in Friday's comeback over Connecticut. Senior G Niele Ivey's grit and determination was the catalyst behind the comeback, while G Alicia Ratay poured in four three-pointers. C Ruth Riley, the Associated Press national Player of the Year, was held in check during the first half against Connecticut, but had 16 of her 18 points in the second half.

Bench strength: If the benches become a factor, the Irish are in big trouble as they practically go exclusively with their starters. Freshman Jeneka Joyce gave Notre Dame big minutes in the win over Connecticut. Purdue, meanwhile, shuttles in several players and is averaging 25 points and 13 rebounds from its reserves.

Key matchup: Riley vs. Cooper. In Purdue's 72-61 loss to Notre Dame in December, Cooper held her own with 11 points and seven rebounds in 32 minutes before fouling out. Riley had 15 points and four rebounds, three offensive. Cooper, with help, is going to have to keep Riley from second shots.

What Purdue has to do to win: Reduce turnovers and pick up the Irish guards on the perimeter. The Boilermakers committed 26 miscues in the first game and let Notre Dame make seven of 12 threes, with Ratay hitting five. A repeat of both would give the Irish the title.

What Notre Dame has to do to win: Crash the boards. The Irish were outrebounded 51-43 by Connecticut on Friday, including 29-14 on the offensive glass. Purdue put up similar numbers against Southwest Missouri State, and Riley and power forward Kelley Siemon will have to keep the Boilermakers from duplicating them.

Bottom line: This should be a great game, even for non-Hoosiers. The teams are fairly evenly matched, with similar talent. The difference could be Purdue's bench, resilience and title-game experience.

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