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IU women make solid case for NCAA berth

Thursday, March 5, 2009


AP Sports Writer

INDIANAPOLIS -- Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack believes that regardless of how its Big Ten tournament quarterfinal against Purdue goes on Friday, the Hoosiers have made a solid case to receive an NCAA tournament bid.

The Hoosiers (19-9) already have beaten Purdue this season, and won at Michigan State earlier this season. Legette-Jack believes those wins, along with non-conference victories over Missouri, Miami and West Virginia, should give the Hoosiers a chance for their first NCAA tournament berth since 2002.

"I think we've done a good enough job to make this committee think about us now," she said. "I think we're going to come out here and give our best performance tomorrow."

Indiana missed out on the NCAA tournament with an 18-14 record last season, and the Hoosiers remembered that when they created their schedule this year. They took an important step with their 68-50 win over Michigan on Thursday, which put them one win away from the 20-win mark.

"We recognized all the things that didn't get us in last year and we've cleaned them up," Legette-Jack said. "We'll continue to work hard. But I think we made a statement today."

Indiana has played its way into the second round the past four years, including the past three under Legette-Jack.

The Hoosiers reached the semifinals in 2006, but that was under Sharon Versyp, who now coaches Purdue.

Jori Davis, who led Indiana with 22 points against Michigan, said the rivalry with Purdue is secondary to the Hoosiers reaching their goals.

"We just want to take it one game at a time," she said. "Michigan was a good team. Purdue is also a good team. We just come here to do what we have to do to get to that final stage. We're going to play our hardest with the right energy. We can come off successful."


: Northwestern nearly broke the tournament record for fewest points in a half with 12 in Thursday's first-round game against Wisconsin.

Wisconsin was pleased with the defensive effort, which helped the Badgers hold on for a 60-51 win in the first round.

"I think that's what we're about," Wisconsin guard Rae Lin D'Alie said. "That's our go-to."

Wisconsin held the Wildcats to 5-for-22 shooting in the first half and led by 13 at the break.

The combined point total of 37 points was slightly better than the record low of 34 points set by Illinois and Michigan State last year.

The Wildcats got hot in the second half, scoring 39 points in the second half on 50 percent shooting.

"It's tough to come back spotting that many points in the first half," Northwestern coach Joe McKeown said. "Took a lot of energy to make the run that we did in the second half."


: Indiana missed its first eight shots and didn't score for the first 6:55 in its win over Michigan.

"We talk about the eyes," Legette-Jack said. "Something about our kids' eyes. When I look in their eyes, I can almost tell if we're ready. I could never find it in their eyes."

The Hoosiers found it later. They shot 49 percent the rest of the game, many of the shots coming on fast breaks after forcing turnovers.

"The pressure in the second half was pivotal for us," Indiana's Kim Roberson said. "It allowed us to generate offense from defense, get us an extra possession."


: Northwestern freshman Brittany Orban closed the season on an impressive run, but it wasn't enough to get her on the all-freshman team.

The 6-foot forward averaged 14.8 points in her final six games this season and made 37-of-43 free throws during that stretch. She scored 18 points in the loss to Wisconsin.

"I know there's a lot of good players on that all-freshman team, but I certainly think she's one of them," McKeown said.

Orban scored a career-high 25 against Ohio State on Feb. 15. She entered the game against Wisconsin averaging 7.9 points per game.

McKeown said Orban has displayed the poise of a veteran.

"I probably should have named her captain at Christmas," he said. "She's just a tough, hard-nosed kid, plays a lot bigger than her size."


: Penn State was eliminated in the first round in two consecutive years for the first time. The Nittany Lions dropped a 58-49 decision to Illinois.

Penn State has won two titles, second to Purdue.

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