IU's NCAA Chances In Doubt After Purdue Loss

Indianapolis - Indiana was unable to hold on to a 14-point first half lead against Purdue in the Women's Big Ten Tournament, and now must wait to find out its NCAA tourney fate...

Indianapolis- Indiana's matchup with Purdue in the quarterfinals of the Women's Big Ten Tournament at Conseco Fieldhouse got off to a much better start than Thursday's game against Michigan.

It was the end that IU could have done without in a 68-64 loss to the third-seeded Boilermakers.

After IU's opening-round win over Michigan, IU head coach Felisha Legette-Jack talked about not seeing something in her team's before the game. The result was a 12-0 hole that IU eventually recovered from with a second-half charge.

Legette-Jack said their eyes were right against Purdue.

"Absolutely, I saw it the whole way. Sometimes the ball just doesn't fall in the hole. I just know there from the beginning to the end everybody that stepped out there was prepared and they were ready and they were defending what we thought that we were trying to receive, is that win," she said.

The Hoosiers made 12 of their first 19 shots to begin the game, totally reversing Thursday's trend, when the Hoosiers didn't score for the first 6:55.

The key to Indiana's quick start was senior forward Amber Jackson, who had 10 points in the first 10 minutes of the game. After that stretch, though, Jackson scored just three points the rest of the game.

"They changed their defense. And they doubled me as soon as I touched it, so I couldn't get a good look off or even think to dribble because they were collapsing on me pretty hard. So all I could do was really kick out," Jackson said. "I just tried to stay on the boards and do what I could defensively to help our team."

A 3-pointer by IU sophomore Andrea McGuirt pushed the lead to 14 with 7:31 to play in the first half. B after that basket the Boilermakers went on a 17-4 run to close the deficit to one at the half, 36-35. Foul trouble plagued the Hoosiers in the first half, as sophomore Jori Davis and senior Kim Roberson were forced to miss significant minutes after picking up two fouls apiece.

"That was really key," Legette-Jack said about the fouls. "With Whitney Thomas and Kim Roberson still in the game, with us up by 12, I think we could really take that up to 20 with that momentum we had. And when we had to go to the bench a little bit, that hurt us."

The second half was a see-saw battle that saw eight ties and seven lead changes.

With one minute to play and the score tied at 64, Davis stole the ball for the Hoosiers and found Jamie Braun, but her shot was blocked by Lakisha Freeman. Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton secured the ball for the Boilermakers, and found freshman Brittany Rayburn streaking down the court for a layup.

Indiana had a chance to either tie or reclaim the lead, but could never get a good look at the basket. Kim Roberson eventually missed a leaning 3, and two Wisdom-Hylton free throws with two seconds left sealed the victory for Purdue.

Rayburn had a game-high 19 in the victory.

"I like the idea that Kim Roberson tried to do. Let's not try to tie, let's try to win it. And it fell short," Legette-Jack said.

Braun led the Hoosiers with 18 points, on 6 of 14 shooting, including 3 of 6 from deep. It was a bounce-back game for her as she scored just four points against Michigan.

"She is like an Eveready battery. You think it's dead, want to throw it away, but it sparks up again. She had a bad game, but you won't find Jamie Braun having two bad games," Legette-Jack said.

An NCAA Tournament berth may have been waiting for the Hoosiers if they had pulled the game out, but the Hoosiers will now have to play the waiting game until March 15th, when they find out whether or not they've done enough to get in the Big Dance.

"Everyone thinks they're on the bubble, they're definitely an NCAA team, great basketball team. [I] have so much respect for them," said Purdue coach Sharon Versyp.

"That's great to hear from my colleague," Legette-Jack said. "I really believe that's right. There's nothing in my spirit that tells me that we're not going to be one of 64. One thing I know, whether we get into the tournament or we're in the great WNIT, I just know that this is a team that everybody needs to see."

Indiana goes into Selection Sunday with a 19-10 record.

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