INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Minnesota coach Pam Borton knew it would be a difficult task for the fourth-seeded Golden Gophers to gain their first berth in the semifinals of the Big Ten tournament.
Facing two-time defending tournament champion and No. 5 seed Purdue in the quarterfinals, Minnesota used an 11-3 run in the final 2:35 to win 71-68 on Friday, setting up a showdown with top seed Ohio State in the semifinals Sunday at 3:30 p.m."We knew this game was going to be like this," Borton said. "It was very well-played and very evenly matched. Purdue came out ready to play and swinging punches."The win didn't come without some nervous moments at the end for the No. 15 Golden Gophers (23-6). Trailing 65-60 with under three minutes left, Minnesota rallied to jump out in front. Jamie Broback tied the score at 65 with a three-point play, and Janel McCarville scored on a runner to give the Golden Gophers a two-point advantage with 58 seconds left.Minnesota pushed the lead to four points before Sharika Webb's 3-pointer brought Purdue within 69-68 with under 20 seconds left. Following a pair of April Calhoun free throws for Minnesota, Katie Gearlds nearly tied the game at the buzzer with a 3-point attempt, but the ball bounced in and out."It didn't look like a good shot, but it felt good coming out," said Gearlds, who scored 15 of her 21 points in the second half.With Gearlds trapped in the corner and time winding down, McCarville rushed over to challenge the shot."I read it and I switched off," McCarville said. "I did everything I could to make sure she didn't get the shot off. Luckily for us, it rimmed out."Broback had 28 points and seven rebounds and McCarville finished with 22 points and nine rebounds for the Golden Gophers, who improved their Big Ten tournament record to 3-10."I can take 22 from McCarville, but I thought Broback was a difference-maker today," Purdue coach Kristy Curry said.Webb had 16 points and Erin Lawless added 14 points and seven rebounds for Purdue (16-12), which had not lost in the quarterfinals since 1997 when it was beaten by Indiana 61-54. The Boilermakers have won five of the previous 10 Big Ten tournaments.After the teams battled to a 33-33 tie at halftime, Minnesota scored the first six points in the second half and looked like it was ready to pull away. But the Boilermakers got right back into the game following a 6-0 run to make it 41-41.The two teams traded the lead over the next 12 minutes until Purdue opened a five-point advantage after a three-point play by Gearlds with under three minutes left.