7:00 PM ET, February 9, 2006
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- When Katie Gearlds saw her Purdue teammates struggling, she took control.Gearlds hit one 3-pointer to break a 40-40 tie in the second half and another to start a closing 19-4 run that helped the 10th-ranked Boilermakers finally fend off Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne 76-52 Thursday night."I think it was just a matter of coming out and playing hard, getting stops," Gearlds said. "They left me wide open a couple of times. That's what you have to do when other guys are struggling."Purdue's 15th win in 16 games was hardly by design.Instead, it struggled to finish off a team that it had beaten by 68 last season, and looked, at times, like anything but a top 10 team.Gearlds changed that impression. She sparked an 11-1 run at the end of the first half, a 15-4 run that gave the Boilermakers control midway through the second half and the closing spurt that sealed the victory.She finished with 20 points, six assists, three rebounds and hit 4-of-5 3-pointers. Aya Traore added 17 points and six rebounds, while Sharika Webb had 12 points."I figured when they wanted to do something about it, they'd do it," Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. "Katie was huge, Sharika didn't fold her tent and Aya withered in and out."While it was enough to win a 16th straight home game against an in-state opponent, Curry clearly was not pleased with the effort against a team that has not won since Dec. 29.The Boilermakers (19-3, 10-1) allowed IPFW to hang around most of the first half and rally from a 13-point second-half deficit to tie the score.Johnna Lewis-Carlisle had 19 points and four rebounds to lead the Mastodons (2-20), who have now lost 12 straight. Ashley Johnson added 11 points and seven rebounds, but Purdue eventually wore them down."I think we did run out of gas, but that's a great basketball team," interim coach Chris Paul said. "I can't say it was more us than them because I think Purdue stepped up and said enough is enough."Lewis-Carlisle tried to keep the Boilermakers stuck in neutral.After Purdue jumped to a 12-6 lead, she hit two of her four 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions to tie the score at 12.The Boilermakers then seemed content to trade scores until Gearlds sparked the late first half run that gave Purdue a 34-25 lead. Curry showed her displeasure by keeping her team in the locker room until 20 seconds before halftime ended, which left no time for Purdue to even warm up."We had made it a point to get more out of our post and at halftime, Erin (Lawless) and Lindsay (Wisdom-Hylton) were 1-of-7," Curry said.Purdue opened up a 40-27 lead with 17:38 to go, but the Mastodons inexplicably rallied with 13 straight points to tie the score and even had a chance to take the lead when Lewis-Carlisle had a wide-open 15-footer.She missed, and Gearlds answered with a 3-pointer that ignited Purdue's second big run and gave it a 55-44 lead with 8:21 left."We wanted to come out and prove something, that we were not the same team as last year," Lewis-Carlisle said.With Purdue finally motivated and the Mastodons running out of energy, the Boilermakers broke away. Gearlds hit a 3 with 6:50 to go, making it 60-48, and IPFW could muster only one basket in the final 7:42."I think you should approach every basketball game the same way," Gearlds said. "Give them credit they came out and played hard and knocked down some shots early. ... It's a win, I guess that's all you can say about it."
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