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White-McCarty Ends College Career

March 29, 1999

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Stephanie White-McCarty hopped up four rungs on the ladder, her severely sprained left ankle dangling to the side, and smiled through the pain while becoming the first Purdue player to cut a net for a national title.

Then, with the honored piece of twine safely in her left hand, she jumped off the ladder _ right into the arms of two teammates.

White-McCarty spent the final minutes of her remarkable amateur basketball career writhing on the bench in pain and clutching an assistant coach’s hand as her Purdue Boilermakers won their first national championship.

White-McCarty, the second-leading career scorer at Purdue after perhaps the greatest high school career by a woman in Indiana history, was hurt while missing a shot with less than five minutes remaining in Purdue’s 62-45 win over Duke on Sunday night.

She squirmed on the court, spitting her mouthpiece about 10 feet away as play continued. When play finally stopped, she was helped to the bench by teammates.

Her face etched in pain, she sat on the bench as a trainer took off her left sneaker. White-McCarty then went to the end of the bench and had her ankle heavily taped, but she limped severely when she tried to walk.

White-McCarty, who had 12 points in the game to bring her Purdue total to 2,182, then took a seat on the bench next to assistant coach Kerry Cremeans, tightly gripping the coach’s left hand and still looking agonized.

Missing their leading scorer, the Boilermakers blew open a close game in the final minutes.

``Steph and I have been through so much together and we dreamed about it. We talked about winning the national championship, and I knew that it was hurting her probably more not being on the court than her ankle was,″ backcourt partner and best friend Ukari Figgs said. ``I just wanted to go out and win it for her.″

After the win, Figgs helped White-McCarty _ who was on crutches _ up to the victory stand as the Boilermakers received the championship trophy. Figgs then also helped White-McCarty up the ladder to become the first Purdue player to cut down part of the net at the San Jose Arena.

``This is what we stayed for,″ said White-McCarty, who remained at Purdue when many players left the team as it switched coaches twice during her tenure. ``The special group we have on this team makes it really nice and really special. It’s been a lot of fun.″

White-McCarty had X-rays on the ankle shortly after the game and was not available for a post-game interview session. But coach Carolyn Peck said her star shooting guard left the court with a sense of satisfaction.

``I can tell you she’s a happy young lady,″ Peck said.

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