WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) – Brittney Martin had 20 points and 20 rebounds, leading Oklahoma State past Purdue 73-66 on Monday and into the Notre Dame Regional semifinals.
The Cowgirls (25-8) won their second straight, ending a 15-game stretch in which they had alternated wins and losses.
It’s the first time since 2008 and the third time Oklahoma State has ever reached the NCAA’s Sweet 16. It will face top-seeded Notre Dame on Saturday in South Bend, Ind.
And it came on a night the fifth-seeded Cowgirls lost star point guard Tiffany Bias for nearly 10 minutes in the second half with what appeared to be a left leg or foot injury. Fourth-seed Purdue (22-9) was led by Whitney Bays with 21 points and 13 rebounds. After Bias left, Purdue closed to 52-46, but the Cowgirls regained control with a 9-4 run and never let Purdue get close.
Beating Purdue on its home court, where the Boilermakers are now 20-8 all-time in NCAA tournament games, was a huge step for a program that lost its head coach and an assistant coach in a fatal plane crash 2 1/2 year ago.
Since then, Oklahoma State has made steady progress — winning the 2012 WNIT title, taking a double-digit lead in the second half of last year’s second round game before losing at Duke and now finally returning to the NCAA regionals.
The Boilermakers, meanwhile, have lost four straight second-round games — three straight to No. 5 seeds with two of those coming at Mackey Arena. Senior guard Courtney Moses scored 11 points in her final game but did make two 3-pointers to break Katie Gearlds’ career record. Moses, who entered the game tied with Gearlds at 238, finished with 240.
But the usually stout Boilermakers never really got in sync. They shot 37.7 percent from the field and had 18 turnovers.
Meanwhile, Martin had another huge night for Oklahoma State and LaShawn Jones added 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Oklahoma State seized control early and dictated the game for most of the rest of the night.
It took its first lead during an 8-0 run that gave the Cowgirls an early 17-10 lead. The Boilermakers charged back with a 10-2 run to take a 20-19 lead on scored on a layup. But Oklahoma State answered with a 9-2 run to retake the lead and never let go.
The Cowgirls led 38-31 at the half, opened the second half on a 9-1 spurt and eventually hung on.