2-Week Layoff No Vacation For The Boilermakers In Women's Tourney

Wednesday, March 14th 2007, 7:19 pm

By: News On 6

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) _ A layoff of nearly two weeks between the final game of the Big Ten tournament and the start of the NCAA tourney is no vacation for Purdue's Boilermakers, who are working just as hard _ maybe harder _ to prepare for Oral Roberts.

The 11th-ranked Boilermakers (28-5), who upset top-seeded Ohio State in the conference championship game, were seeded second in the Dallas Regional and will face the Mid-Continent Conference champion Golden Eagles (22-10) in the first round of the NCAA tournament in Minneapolis on Saturday night.

Team practices since the last game have been ``really intense,'' forward Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton said Wednesday. ``We're working on all the little things, the drills, the conditioning, the things you kind of get away from when you're playing in season.

``We had to get through it and get our bodies back in shape,'' she said. ``It was good for our team, and I think were at a good stage right now to play well.''

This is Purdue's 18th year in the NCAA tourney. The Boilermakers won the championship in 1999 and were runners-up to Notre Dame in 2001. They lost in the regional semifinals last year.

Oral Roberts, the Mid-Continent Conference champion this season, has lost in the first round in each of its three NCAA appearances, including a 68-48 loss to Purdue during the Boilermakers' run to the title in 1999.

``Oral Roberts is very physical, a very tough team that is really playing with a lot of passion, a lot of emotion,'' Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. ``They do a great job down low, being physical, pushing the post players out.''

The Eagles are led by 6-foot-2 Elisha Turek, who is averaging a team-high 17.4 points and 10.5 rebounds a game and the Mid-Con's career scoring leader with 2,030 points.

``She's a fantastic post player,'' Purdue's Erin Lawless said. ``But all season long in the Big Ten I've had to deal with 6-9, 6-5 post players like that. It's just matter of coming in with the same mentality, making sure I'm playing strong defense.''

Katie Gearlds, the Big Ten tourney MVP, is Purdue's top scorer at 18.5 points a game. Wisdom-Hylton is next at 14.4 and Lawless is averaging 10.6.

Wisdom-Hylton said being the No. 2 seed doesn't change Purdue's game plan.

``We're just going to come out and play Purdue basketball. But the fact we are two-seed is great for us. We need to focus on ourselves and know what we need to do to come out with a victory,'' she said. ``There is kind of a high expectation because we are a two-seed, but we don't want to really worry about that.''

Versyp was never in the NCAA tournament as a Purdue player in the mid-1980s, and her only previous tourney appearance as a coach was in 2004, when her Maine team lost in the first round. Last year, under former coach Kristy Curry, Purdue lost to North Carolina 70-68.

``This whole team has exceeded expectations,'' Versyp said. ``You know what you want to do when you have a new staff coming in and you've got to make a ton of changes, and each day, we just kept getting better.''

The winner of the Purdue-Oral Roberts game will play either Georgia Tech or DePaul in the second round on Monday.

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