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Saturday Night's Alright

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This will be a short post, as I don't have time to do a full look at all the games I've missed. I'm just going to do a quickie on the women's tournament so far. A fuller look at Purdue's NCAA profile will be coming before Selection Sunday. Purdue picked up two very nice wins yesterday and today, defeating Michigan State 73-64 and B1G regular-season champion Penn State 68-66.

Waiting in the title game is Nebraska, who sent Sam Prahalis and Ohio State home earlier today (good riddance). If the past is any indicator, it should be a great game, given that the only time the teams met this year, the result was a triple-overtime epic that saw Nebraska escape Mackey with a 93-89 win. The game will be on ESPN2 at 4:00, so tune in while you get your hate on for IU.

The MSU game opened with The Brittany Rayburn Show. She made 11 of her first 12 shots, including 7 for 7 from 3, and Purdue carried a comfortable lead for most of the game. Rayburn would finish with 29 points on the game, most of them in the first half. Ostarello led the team with 11 boards, but the star of the 2nd half was Chantel Poston. When you carry a 10-15 point lead during the 2nd half, you know there's going to be a run sooner or later from the opposition. If you handle that run, you win. MSU was making their run, and the Boilers were starting to falter. Poston, though, had the answer every time MSU looked like they were going to draw within range. She finished with 10 points off the bench, all of them coming at key moments, and 4 boards.

The Penn State game was an absolute classic. Close throughout, it featured some critical strategy, hard-nosed defense, and some clutch baskets on both sides. Going in, the game was expected to turn on the Brittany Rayburn-Maggie Lucas matchup. However, Purdue set out to rewrite that script from the opening tip. What ensued was a clinic in ball denial and swarming defense. Led by KK Houser, the Boilers made the conscious decision to make anyone but Lucas beat them. Anytime she gave up the ball, she had a defender between her and the return pass, and anytime she turned toward the lane, there was a help defender there.

Alex Bentley and the rest of the Lady Lions certainly gave it a great shot. Bentley put up 21 to lead them, but they were answered at every turn. Courtney Moses poured in 21, including a huge 3 to break a PSU run that had put the Lions up 1. Antoinette Howard turned in a beast performance of 13 points and 13 boards, leading an overall domination of the boards (54-32). And despite a late run by Penn State to tie it at 66 (helped by a Purdue turnover), Rayburn put the final nail in the coffin with a tough, driving layup with 1.4 seconds on the clock. Despite 21 turnovers, Purdue was through to the finals. Let's hang a banner, ladies.