Liberty-Purdue Preview

Purdue has already made one impressive tournament run this

season, and it will try to begin another Sunday in Louisville.

The fourth-seeded Boilermakers take on No. 13 seed Liberty in

the first round of the NCAA tournament, with the winner potentially

facing host Louisville on Tuesday.

Ranked No. 21 in the AP poll, Purdue (24-8) is coming off a Big

Ten tournament in which it won each game by at least 12 points in

grabbing a second straight championship. The Boilermakers had a

much easier time than last season, when they beat Nebraska in

double overtime in the final.

They followed the 2012 conference tournament title by winning

the program’s 15th straight first-round NCAA game, but lost the

next one to South Carolina. The 1999 national champions will be

looking to make a deeper run this season.

“I feel like playing in the Big Ten, we’ve been prepared all

year,” Purdue senior forward Drey Mingo said. “We know they’re

going to come in and be really physical with us. We’ve been

preparing for that.”

Liberty, which leads the nation in rebounding differential at

plus-17.5 per game, has become an NCAA regular in its 15th

appearance. This will be the first time the Lady Flames (27-6) have

played a Big Ten team since 2005, when as a No. 13 seed they upset

Penn State en route to the regional semifinals.

This season’s team has won 14 straight, rolling to Big South

regular-season and tournament titles. The Lady Flames have plenty

of size, with coach Carey Green bringing 6-foot-5 Katelyn Adams and

6-4 Ashley Rininger off the bench.

Both teams are expecting a grinding game.

“We’re ready to push back,” said Tolu Omotola, Liberty’s 6-3

senior post player and second-leading scorer at 13.3 points per


Senior Devon Brown leads the team with 16.3 points per contest,

and has totaled 40 in two career games in the NCAA tournament. She

is 20 points shy of 2,000 for her career.

Purdue also likes to play offense, and the Boilermakers do it

well. They rank 27th nationally at 43.4 percent from the field and

10th at 77.3 percent from the free-throw line.

Courtney Moses leads the way in averaging 13.3 points, with

Mingo close behind at 12.6. Senior Sam Ostarello figures to be key

on the glass, and she’s nearly averaging a double-double with 9.7

points and 9.8 boards.

Along with rebounding, Liberty plays stingy defense, pressing at

times along with plenty of zone.

“We’ve just to be in that attack mode,” Purdue coach Sharon

Versyp said. “I think that’s the biggest thing. We can’t just

settle for outside shots.”