SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ Pretty, it wasn’t. But Purdue will take it.
After starting the season by beating three-time defending champion Tennessee, Purdue ended it by winning the title itself.
Purdue bounced back after the worst half ever in an NCAA championship game and beat Duke 62-45 Sunday night for its first national title. And for the top-ranked Boilermakers, that was absolutely beautiful.
It happened because seniors Ukari Figgs and Stephanie White-McCarty, who had gone through so many tough times early in their career, refused to get down after the team’s terrible first half.
They were the driving force in a 12-1 second half run that pulled the Boilermakers from behind and put them ahead to stay.
Figgs, scoreless in a 0-for-7 first half, had six points in the run and finished with 18. White-McCarty had one basket and helped keep the team together with her poise.
The Boilermakers (34-1), who finished with 33 straight victories, then made enough baskets and defensive stands down the stretch to keep Duke (29-7) at bay, even as White-McCarty, a unanimous All-American, sat out the final 4:01 after spraining her left ankle.
The loss by the Duke women ended any hope of a unique ``double″ for the Blue Devils’ basketball program. The Duke men are favored in Monday night’s men’s championship game with Connecticut.