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BIG TEN WOMEN Purdue tops Ohio State, 67-65, for tourney title



Published: Fri, March 14, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.



It's the seventh straight conference or tournament championship for Purdue.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Mary Jo Noon's career has been defined by injuries and championships. There have been too many of the former, but there are never enough banners to raise at Purdue.

Noon and Shereka Wright each scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds as No. 10 Purdue beat No. 22 Ohio State 67-65 Monday night to win the Big Ten women's basketball tournament.

It was the seventh straight season the Boilermakers have been the conference's regular season or tournament champions.

"I wanted to come out and prove to everybody that we are the best team in the Big Ten," Noon said. "I'm a senior and you don't want to lose. My teammates did a great job getting the ball inside, and I think that's all about determination and hard work. I wanted it more than the other team."

Noon redshirted her freshman year and was on the bench when Purdue won the 1999 national championship. She tore her anterior cruciate ligament during the 2000-01 season, missed 18 games and barely played in the Final Four.

Part of six crowns

Still, she's been a part of six championships.

When she's healthy, Noon gives the Boilermakers a sorely needed inside presence. Against Ohio State, Noon had seven offensive rebounds and shot 9-for-16 from the floor.

"I'm elated for the team and the program, to continue the streak, especially for Mary Jo Noon," Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. "She did tonight what all good seniors do. She stepped forward when we needed her."

The third-seeded Boilermakers (26-5) won the tournament for the fourth time -- but first since 2000 -- and advanced to the NCAA tournament for the 10th straight season. Purdue will play host to first- and second-round games at Mackey Arena.

Caity Matter led fourth-seeded Ohio State (22-8) with 21 points, and Kim Wilburn had 16. The Buckeyes will likely get an at-large berth under first-year coach Jim Foster.

Missed opportunity

The Buckeyes had a chance to tie or win on their last possession, but Wilburn took a 3-pointer and couldn't get off a good shot. She put up an airball and the ball went out of bounds with three-tenths of a second remaining.

"I think I made a mental mistake," Wilburn said. "We were down by two and in a split second I just thought I'd shoot it. Basically, it was my fault."

Purdue then ran out the clock.

Erika Valek scored 13 points and Hicks added 11 for Purdue.

Purdue won the tournament championship from 1998-2000, and lost the 1996 and 2001 title games.

Penn State's Tanisha Wright, Matter, Wilburn, Valek and Shereka Wright were named to the all-tournament team. Shereka Wright was the most outstanding player.




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