Purdue 76, Georgia Tech 63

Monday, March 19th 2007, 10:37 pm
By: News On 6

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Purdue does more than just play defense, and Katie Gearlds and the Boilermakers are going back to the round of 16 because of their balance.

Katie Gearlds led second-seeded Purdue with 26 points in a 76-63 win over seventh-seeded Georgia Tech in the second round of the NCAA women's tournament on Monday night.

Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton added 18 points and 10 rebounds for the Boilermakers (30-5), who will play third-seeded Georgia next Sunday in the Dallas Regional semifinals.

Stephanie Higgs scored 27 points and Janie Mitchell had 16 points for the Yellow Jackets (21-12), who trailed by at least 15 points for a stretch of nearly 29 minutes until a late basket by Higgs.

Purdue, which led the Big Ten Conference in fewest points allowed this season, has advanced to the regional semifinals four of the last five years.

Georgia Tech, which went 2-12 in the Atlantic Coast Conference last season before emerging this year, pestered with the full-court press, but Purdue too many times found the opening it needed. The Boilermakers were a little sloppy in the second half and the pace of the game bogged down, but the Yellow Jackets looked worn out and didn't have enough in them to rally.

After watching Georgia Tech beat 10th-seeded DePaul in the first round by one point on a last-second shot by Jacqua Williams for the school's first NCAA tournament victory, coach MaChelle Joseph found herself in a strange, though desirable, spot.

Purdue's all-time leading scorer with 2,405 points, Joseph _ pictured in the Boilermakers media guide with a wild waterfall hairstyle that her players teased her about this weekend _ was suddenly up against her alma mater. On top of that, Purdue's first-year coach, Sharon Versyp, was the player whose success Joseph wanted to match when she arrived on campus in 1988.

Well, Joseph didn't have much fun on the sideline on this night. The Boilermakers were just too big, too strong, and too experienced.

The only time Gearlds missed in the first half was an off-balance 3-pointer she tried right before the shot clock buzzed, and the Boilermakers went a staggering 19-for-24 from the field for 79.2%. FahKara Malone, the freshman point guard, had 10 of her 14 points before the break.

On the other end, the wide-and-long matchup zone defense used by Purdue frequently flustered the Yellow Jackets. The Boilermakers enjoyed a 17-4 run in the middle of the half, a sequence highlighted when Wisdom-Hylton moved out to the corner and blocked Jill Ingram's 3-pointer. Erin Lawless grabbed the ball and sent it ahead to Malone, who swished a 3-pointer to make it 25-12.