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Celebration Is Very Brief for Purdue

November 17, 1998|From Associated Press

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Beating three-time defending NCAA champion Tennessee was tough enough. Now, the Purdue women's basketball team must put the euphoria aside.

When the final horn sounded in the 78-68 victory over the Lady Vols Sunday night, Purdue's women shared their joy with the football players who embraced them during an emotional celebration.

It was the first loss for Tennessee since March 1997, a span of 46 games.

Now, a Purdue team that will lose Coach Carolyn Peck after the season has more immediate business at hand.

The team will need to "come to practice on Tuesday and practice to a level where you want to maintain this intensity," said Peck, leaving to become general manager and coach of the expansion Orlando team in the WNBA.

"Can you come back and do it again? That's a challenge."

The Boilermakers will find out quickly with road games at nationally ranked Arizona and Stanford this week.

They'll head West having established depth in a backcourt that features former Indiana Miss Basketball Stephanie White-McCarty and Ukari Figgs, who are expected to finish the season among the top 10 scorers in Purdue women's basketball history.

Purdue used a three-guard starting unit Sunday that included sophomore Katie Douglas. Freshman Kelly Komara, last season's Indiana Miss Basketball, made a key contribution off the bench.

After Figgs went to the bench early with foul trouble, Komara made a three-pointer on her first collegiate shot.

"Kelly played like she was a senior," Figgs said. "It makes it a lot easier when you're sitting there and the person who is playing for you is playing like that."

A crowd of 11,778--the third-largest to see Purdue's women play in Mackey Arena--watched the upset.

White-McCarty, who will become the seventh women's player to score 1,500 points with her first point at Arizona Thursday, led Purdue with 24 points. Sophomore center Camile Cooper scored a career-high 18 points off the bench.

"I'm a lot more comfortable and confident," said Cooper, who averaged 6.6 points as a freshman. "I worked hard over the summer and I think our guards are doing a great job getting it to me inside. We need to establish our inside game more."

"On our scouting report (Cooper) was the one we had to look out for," Tennessee Coach Pat Summitt said. "She's the one that will be the big-play person inside."

Summitt predicts big things for Purdue if it can duplicate its effort against her team.

"They played very well together and played smart," she said. "They picked our defense apart. They were more aggressive than we were. Our defense had very little influence on the Purdue offense."

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