Indianapolis, Ind.-- Despite being blown-out in both regular season meetings, the Purdue Boilermakers (16-12, 9-7) were not going to forfeit their two-consecutive conference crowns without a fight. A gritty-hard fought game through out, the Minnesota Golden Gophers (23-6, 12-4) beat the Boilers for the third time this season, winning today by a count of 71-68.
The Golden Gophers dominated the two regular season meetings, winning both by an average of 21 points. This was the first Big Ten Tournament meeting for the teams.
Gopher sophomore Jaime Broback led the way for Minnesota. Her 28 points were a single-game high thus far in the tournament. She pulled in seven rebounds in her effort as well. Senior center Janel McCarville added 22 points and nine boards. McCarville was the only Big Ten player to average a double-double on the season.
Katie Geralds came up big for the Boilers down the stretch, scoring 15 points in the second half. She finished with 21 on the night and was Purdue's leading scorer.
The game's opening minutes saw McCarville and Purdue senior Emily Heikes engage in a few rather physical exchanges down low. Both centers benefited from the tough competition, scoring six points a piece in the first 11 minutes of play. In all, the Gophers had 22 points in the paint in the first half and the Boilermakers had 16.
Both teams sought to get out and run in the first half. The quick play resulted in the highest scoring first half of the tournament, with Minnesota and Purdue tied at 33.
Just before the five-minute mark of the first half, Purdue caused a turnover on a shot clock violation and used it to stop a Minnesota run, which brought the Boilers back from a three-point deficit. From that point until the end of the quarter, Purdue outscored Minnesota to bring the game even at 33 after 20 minutes of action.
In the first half, McCarville and teammate Jaime Broback led the way for the Maroon and Gold. McCarville scored 12 and Broback 10 in the opening half. Indianapolis-native, Sharika Webb was the high mark for the Boilers after 20 minutes, with nine points. The junior finished with 16 points on the contest.
The game's physicality continued to escalate in the second half with charges and hard-screens knocking players to the ground. After scoring eight of the half's first 10 points, the Gophers saw their six point lead evaporate with an 11-2 Purdue run, highlighted by a spinning Erin Lawless lay-up at the 12:00 mark.
Lawless finished the contest in double-figures with 14 points and seven rebounds.
The game remained separated by a single position for more than 10 minutes, until Purdue opened up a short-lived four-point lead at 60-56 with 4:30 left.
The back and forth flow of the game continued for the remainder. After Broback made one-of-two free throws with 15 seconds left to extend the Gopher lead to 71-68, Geralds had the ball in the corner and got off a last second shot that drew good iron, but didn't fall, ending the Boilermakers' hopes at securing their third straight conference tournament title.
Minnesota will move into the semifinals for the first time in Big Ten Tournament history. The Golden Gophers will face top-seeded Ohio State on Sunday at 3:30 p.m. ET. The Buckeyes took the two teams' only regular season meeting 65-53. Check back to BigTen.org for the latest news, scores, and stats from the 2005 Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament