Looking for revenge

By Todd McMahon

All aboard. Next stop—West Lafayette, Ind., home of the team that never seems to vanish from NIU’s sights of late.

For the second time in three years, the Huskies and their newest rival, No. 3-seeded Purdue, will chug away at each other in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Mackey Arena Sunday at 1 p.m.

In the 1990 tourney, the fourth-seeded Boilermakers ended NIU’s season with an 86-81 victory. But that was just the start of the rivalry.

The Huskies participated in the Boilermaker Classic last season, but an expected matchup with Purdue in the championship game went for naught as NIU fell in the first round.

But the Boilermakers made their return visit this past December and participated in NIU’s Fastbreak Fest. This time, the NIU-Purdue matchup came to pass in the championship game.

The Huskies stayed right with Lin Dunn’s club for the first 24 minutes. But All-America candidate MaChelle Joseph (19 points) and Donna Gill (18 points, 8-of-10 from the floor) led Purdue to yet another victory over NIU, 83-68.

Although NIU (18-13) hasn’t solved Purdue (22-6) to this point, things could be different this time around.

Only Dee Dee Jeske and Tracy Mondek remain from NIU’s first NCAA Tournament team, that was buoyed by the veteran core of Carol Owens, Lisa Foss, Tammy Hinchee, Denise Dove and Kris Weis.

And the NIU team that fell at Chick Evans Field House just over three months ago no longer is present in this postseason. The youth has come together and grown up in just two short weeks.

As NIU head coach Jane Albright-Dieterle noted after her team toughed it out Wednesday for a 77-71 overtime victory over Louisiana Tech, this is a tournament of attitude, not skill (as ESPN’s Mimi Griffin said last Sunday).

“There are 32 teams left playing,” Albright-Dieterle said. “We’re wanting to keep going.

“You didn’t see us celebrate a whole lot. We’re trying to stay away from ‘this is the end of the world.’ It’s not the end of the world. … we’re not glad just to be where we are.”

“They have to overcome the fact that they got beat by about 20 here,” Louisiana Tech Leon Barmore said. “They have to go to Purdue. So, they have to really start thinking they can win. If they do that, then they’ll go down there and give them a good run.”