Sat. Final: Purdue 70, UW Women 56
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton came up big again.
As a result, the Purdue Boilermakers are where they want to be and where they usually are. Wisdom-Hylton, a senior forward and consensus All-Big 10 selection, turned in a second consecutive dominant performance Saturday night with 17 points and nine rebounds in the third-seeded Boilermakers' 70-56 victory over seventh-seeded Wisconsin in a Big Ten women's basketball tournament semifinal at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"It's tournament time," said Wisdom-Hylton, who had three steals Saturday a day after totaling 17 points and 15 rebounds in a quarterfinal victory over Indiana.
"People step up and it's a do-or-die type situation, so you want to come out and play hard for your team."
Guard FahKara Malone, after a scoreless first half, scored 13 second-half points, and center Danielle Campbell scored 16 points for the Boilermakers (22-9). Purdue advanced to the final for a fourth consecutive season.
Sophomore guard Alyssa Karel had 18 points for Wisconsin (18-14).
"We've done well this season, and we're going to play some more," Wisconsin coach Lisa Stone said.
Purdue, the two-time defending tournament champion, will play the winner of Saturday's second semifinal between top-seeded Ohio State (25-5) and fourth-seeded Iowa (21-9) in Sunday's championship game.
Purdue is now 12-1 in Big Ten semifinals and has yet to lose in the tournament under third-year coach Sharon Versyp. Purdue has won more titles (seven) in the tournament's 15 seasons than any other school.
"No one has the magic method," Versyp said. "I just really feel you need to peak at the right time."
Wisdom-Hylton had 10 points in two previous meetings with Wisconsin this season. She matched that in the first half Saturday.
"This game, they weren't as physical and they weren't doubling me as much," Wisdom-Hylton said. "I felt like the last two times they were a lot more physical."
Of Wisdom-Hylton, Stone said, "She's a first-round draft pick in my opinion. She's a very good player."
The Boilermakers, who shot 53.1 percent from the field (26-of-49), trailed 30-24 with 3:10 remaining in the first half, but went on a 14-0 run over the next 5:30 and never trailed again. Purdue's largest lead was 20 points with 4:40 to play.
"It was very important for us," Malone said of the run late in the first half. "We needed that momentum. We just needed to get some stops. Our defense wasn't doing anything the first 17 minutes."
Purdue, a winner in seven of eight games, shot 59 percent from the field in the second half while holding the Badgers to 36 percent shooting after the break.
"Our last eight games, I just feel so confident with this group," Versyp said.
Wisconsin upset second-seeded Michigan State 56-50 on Friday night to advance to the semifinal.
"You don't want to admit that (the Badgers were tired), but it was our third game in three days," Stone said. "We don't want to take anything away from Purdue, and we don't want to make excuses."
Purdue scored the final seven points of the half to take a 31-30 lead, then continued its game-changing run by scoring the first seven points of the second half. Wisdom-Hylton's three-point play and layup on back-to-back possessions pushed Purdue's lead to 38-30 with 17:40 remaining.
"We came out of the locker room wanting to go high-energy and we wanted to feed off of that," Wisdom-Hylton said. Wisconsin sophomore forward Tara Steinbauer broke the run with a layup with 16:00 remaining to cut the Purdue lead to 38-32, but the Boilermakers scored 11 of the next 12 points to secure the victory.
"It's a great feeling," Wisdom-Hylton said. "I can't be more proud of this group right here. I'm so excited to go out my senior year and get to the championship game. We're going to play our best and hopefully three-peat."
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)