Lady Raiders End Season With Loss To Purdue|
March 24, 2001
By JOHN ZENOR
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) - Once again, Purdue's triumph is bittersweet.
Katie Douglas hit a short runner with 30 seconds left and the Boilermakers took advantage of early foul trouble by Texas Tech's best post player for a 74-72 win Saturday in the NCAA Mideast Regional semifinals.
That set up a matchup Monday night with Xavier as Purdue (29-6) tries to duplicate its title run of two years ago after losing in the second round of the NCAA tournament last season.
The bad news for Purdue was that freshman Erika Valek, a native of Lubbock, Texas, tore a ligament in her right knee with just over four minutes left after scoring 13 points. She got hugs from her hometown team after the game.
"We've gone through a lot this year, but it's never easy," said center Camille Cooper, who had 17 points on 8-of-11 shooting. "It's still a bit unnerving. But I don't think it would be Purdue if we didn't have a little adversity.
"We just rallied together and tried to win the game for her."
The win was also for Tiffany Young, a popular Purdue player who was killed by a drunken driver a few months after the 1999 championship season. Young was a native of nearby Hillsboro, Ala., and much of her family was on hand Saturday.
Texas Tech freshman Jia Perkins scored 18 of her career-high 29 points in the second half to rally the Lady Raiders (25-7) from a 10-point deficit. The Lady Raiders had made the regional finals in two of the last three seasons.
"There were a couple of times when we could have folded, but we didn't," Texas Tech coach Marsha Sharp said. "We kept playing hard and trying to make every play to give ourselves the win.
"I think we'll be back."
Pierson, who had 28 points last weekend against Virginia Tech, had just five
points and one rebound in less than 13 minutes and fouled out with 5:54 left.
She attempted only three shots.
"It really was a major, major problem for us to try to create offense without her on the floor," Sharp said.
Perkins hit two free throws then nailed a 3-pointer with 2:22 left to tie it 70-70.
Douglas hit one of two free throws 20 seconds later and Texas Tech missed layups on consecutive possessions.
Douglas slipped along the baseline to score in traffic with 30 seconds left, making it 73-70. Perkins missed a 3 with Douglas rebounding and drawing the foul.
"I thought Perkins' look was probably as good a look as you can get, at that point in time," Sharp said. "And it just didn't go."
Douglas sealed the win with a free throw with 11.9 seconds left. Perkins made a layup with four-tenths of a second to go but time ran out with Purdue's inbounds play.
"I think the last two minutes we really picked it up and played like it was our last game," the senior All-American said.
She took little satisfaction in her performance.
"You can look at how many points I scored, but that's not what I look at," Perkins said. "I look at the outcome of the game."
With four starters at least 6-1, Purdue had little trouble pounding it inside early and often against Texas Tech's zone to take a 41-33 halftime lead. The Boilermakers scored the first basket of the second half and had 44 points in the paint.
"I thought our kids did a nice job of going inside early," Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. "We thought if we went in often and we were the aggressor and did the things we had worked on the past few days we could put (Cooper) in that position."
Now, the team must figure out a way to overcome the loss of one of its sparkplugs.
"There's no question Erika's our energy, she's our enthusiasm," Curry said. "This team's been through so much. I just feel so bad. But this team can overcome anything they want to overcome."