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Purdue aims to even the score against North Carolina

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Posted: Friday March 19, 1999 06:34 PM

  Stephanie White-McCarty (left), Katie Douglas and the rest of the Boilermakers plan to burst North Carolina's bubble on Saturday. AP

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Purdue's top-ranked women's team has a chance to even the score with North Carolina in the NCAA Midwest Regional tournament on Saturday.

The teams have met only once when the Lady Tar Heels posted an 89-74 triumph in the Final Four of the 1994 tournament and North Carolina went on to win the national championship.

But Purdue coach Carolyn Peck planned no motivational talk before the game in Normal, Ill.

"There's no great motivational speech. They all know what direction they want to go in, and they get each other ready for the games," Peck said after Purdue (30-1) stretched its winning streak to 28 games with a 54-41 second-round win over Kansas on the Boilermakers' home court.

"What we'll have to do different from tonight is we'll have to pack up and get on a bus. But we'll go to Normal and we'll prepare just like we have for every other game. ... As far as mental preparation to come out and play hard, this team has done that."

The Boilermakers haven't been to the Final Four since that 1994 trip, although they've been in the tournament every year. They reached the regional finals last year, losing to Louisiana Tech 72-65.

The Boilermakers left Thursday for Normal, Ill., where the top-seeded Big Ten champions will make final preparations today for the 14th-ranked Tar Heels (28-7), who are seeded fourth. A victory on Saturday would send Purdue against either No. 6 Texas Tech (30-3), seeded second in the regional or No. 9 Rutgers (28-5), the third seed, on Monday.

Meanwhile, All-American Stephanie White-McCarty just wants to continue playing with her teammates before the former Indiana Miss Basketball ends her senior year.

"I've accomplished so much here at Purdue," White-McCarty said. "But, I've never been to the Final Four and that's my big goal right now. ... So much has happened here ... It is going to be very difficult to leave my teammates."

The 5-foot-11 White-McCarty leads Purdue in scoring and assists. She has scored 638 points this season, while hitting over 47 percent of her shots from the field. In her four years, playing under three different coaches, White-McCarty has scored 2,113 points, the second highest total in school history and the fourth highest in Big Ten women's play.

"You've got to look beyond the points when you look at Stephanie," said Peck, who also will be leaving the Boilermakers after its last game to become the coach and general manager of the WNBA's Orlando expansion team. "This an outstanding student, who is graduating as a Phi Beta Kappa with better than a 3.5 GPA (grade point average out of 4.0), an outstanding person who has been a leader from the day she came on this campus."

Peck headed to the regional semifinals having compiled a 53-11 record (.828 winning percentage) and is a finalist for national coach of the year honors and was selected the Big Ten coach of the year this season.

North Carolina will have to concern itself with more than White-McCarty. Senior guard Ukari Figgs, a roommate of the Purdue star for three years, has broken her own school season record with 59 three-point field goals this season. She set the record with 56 scores from behind the arc last season and White-McCarty now is second on the list with 57 this season.

And fouling the Boilermakers could be costly. Figgs, White-McCarty and sophomore Katie Douglas have compiled the top three career free throw percentages in school history. Figgs leads the list at .842, followed by White-McCarty at .805 and Douglas at .798.

"Our team philosophy is, 'Take care of your teammates.' If there's an offensive situation where a shot's not falling, then somebody else should step up," Peck said. "Defensively, if somebody gets beat, then there's a teammate there to take care of them.

"If we need a big play, somebody will step up and make a big stop. They don't sit back and watch and say, 'Stephanie, carry us,' or 'Ukari, carry us.' We do this as a team. I think that has been the biggest ingredient of our success thus far."

Related information
Rutgers coach works overtime preparing for Texas Tech
No. 1 Purdue women struggle past Kansas
Purdue struggles to 68-48 victory over Oral Roberts
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