Purdue 80, Virginia Tech 62
Virginia Tech had its hopes set on its second trip to the round of 16 in school history. But Purdue, which last year had its NCAA tournament run halted in the second round by a school from Virginia, wasn't about to let history repeat itself.
The Hokies' bid to advance to the East Region semifinal ended tonight when seventh-seeded Virginia Tech lost, 80-62, to the No. 2-seeded Boilermakers in a second-round NCAA tournament game at Mackey Arena.
Purdue (28-5), which lost in the second round to Old Dominion last year, advances to play the winner of Tuesday's Kansas State-Notre Dame game on Sunday in Dayton, Ohio. The Boilermakers, who won the national championship four years ago, are making their eighth appearance in the round of 16.
Virginia Tech (22-10) can point to one statistic -- turnovers -- as the key reason why it won't be moving on to the next round. The Hokies, whose 20 turnovers nearly cost them their first-round game against Georgia Tech, turned the ball over 20 times against Purdue. Those miscues, four of which were shot-clock violations, led to 28 points for the Boilermakers.
Freshman point guard Carrie Mason "just struggled," Virginia Tech Coach Bonnie Henrickson said. "She was a deer caught in the headlights today. She wouldn't let go [of the ball] and when she couldn't get in an offense, she just kept dribbling it. She just didn't take control. As the point guard, she has to take control."
In nearly every other aspect, Virginia Tech was competitive with Purdue. The Hokies made 55 percent of their shots, while the Boilermakers shot 49 percent. The teams were nearly even in rebounding, with Purdue holding a 27-26 advantage.
The two areas where the Boilermakers outdid Virginia Tech were foul shots and three-pointers. Purdue, which tied a season high with eight three-pointers, had more opportunities then the Hokies to be productive from the free throw line, making 18 of their 23 attempts. Virginia Tech took only six free throws, making two.
After going up 8-5, Virginia Tech quickly became confused by Purdue's defense, which led the Hokies to become careless with the ball. They had five turnovers in less than two minutes.
"It was just not being fundamental with the ball," senior forward Chrystal Starling said. "We picked up our dribble a lot. . . . We made the mistake of not coming to the ball, coming to the passes. Purdue did a great job of getting in the passing lanes and pressuring the ball."
The Boilermakers, energized by their vocal fans, got on a roll. They scored on seven of eight possessions to take a 41-24 lead. Erika Valek was particularly productive for Purdue, scoring 16 of her game-high 24 points in the first half. She had 14 of the Boilermakers' 18 points during one stretch early in the half.
Each team took away the other's leading scorer. Ieva Kublina, who averages 15.4 points for the Hokies, finished with five points on 2-of-5 shooting. Shereka Wright, who averages 19.3 points, finished with nine points on 1-of-5 shooting.
"Just like we tried to limit Wright's touches, they did a good job on Ieva," Henrickson said. "Unfortunately, Ieva didn't get to the free throw line 10 times."
Virginia Tech, which fell behind 47-30 to start the second half, rallied to cut Purdue's lead to 52-47 with 12 minutes 58 seconds to play. The Hokies went with a quicker lineup -- freshmen Kerri Gardin and Dawn Chriss (St. John's) -- which gave the Boilermakers problems.