Vanderbilt vs Purdue
66 - 73
December 7, 2002
Tempe, Ariz.


TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Erika Valek had almost as many turnovers as points at halftime, and No. 6 Purdue had its hands full with No. 8 Vanderbilt.

Then the point guard got her game together. Valek had 16 of her career-high 23 points and in the second half, and the Boilermakers shut down Chantelle Anderson to earn a 73-66 victory over the Commodores on Saturday.

''Chantelle is the best center in this country,'' Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. ''She's going to be double- and triple-teamed. She's going to see four, five people at times, and that is very difficult for her.''

The game was part of the AstraZeneca Hoops for the Cure Classic II, a one-day benefit for breast-cancer research. No. 9 Notre Dame beat host Arizona State 81-52 earlier.

Shereka Wright had 14 points and Mary Jo Noon scored 10 for the Boilermakers (6-0), who are off to their best start since the 1992-93 team won its first eight.

''Shereka and Mary Jo got quick fouls at the beginning, so the whole team had to step up,'' said Valek, who made just one of her five turnovers after halftime. ''But it opened up things for Beth (Jones) and I, because I don't think they were expecting us to be offensive threats.''

Jenni Benningfield had 15 points and nine rebounds for Vanderbilt (4-1).

Anderson, who was 5-for-6 for 10 points in the first half, missed all five shots in the second half and finished with 13.

Vanderbilt's Abi Ramsey had 11 points and Ashley McElhiney had 10 points and 12 assists.

McElhiney scored all of her points in the second half, making two 3-pointers in a 50-second span late in the game. Each cut Vanderbilt's deficit to five points.

But Wright responded to the first with a three-point play with four minutes left, opening a 58-50 lead, and Valek made two free throws after McElhiney's second long shot, sending Purdue to a 60-53 lead with 2:44 to go.

In the final 1:15, Valek had a layup and four free throws to hold off Vanderbilt.

''You want to position yourself to be these types of games, and we came out looking timid and hesitant,'' McElhiney said. ''I don't think it was Xs and Os that beat us tonight. It was not believing in ourselves.''

The Boilermakers had a 9-4 lead early on, but Vanderbilt rallied and led until late in the first half.

In the final 2:33 of the half, the lead changed hands three times -- the last time on a layup by Purdue's Lindsey Hicks with 10 seconds remaining.

Benningfield gave Vanderbilt its last lead at 26-25 with a layup 1:03 into the second half, but Jones buried one of her three 3-pointers for Purdue 15 seconds later.

It started an 18-7 run in which Valek scored six points, capping the rally with a pullup jumper for a 43-33 Purdue lead with 9:42 left in the game.

''She hit some big shots off the dribble,'' Vanderbilt coach Melanie Balcomb said. ''She ran their offense and made some big shots for them down the stretch.''


Vanderbilt Athletic Department
2601 Jess Neely Drive
Nashville, TN 37212
615-322-GOLD (4653)