HAMMOND | Purdue Calumet advanced to the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship game with an easy 91-57 victory over visiting Indiana South Bend in Friday's semifinal.
Cassidy Deno led a balanced attack for the Peregrines with 20 points on 6-for-15 shooting. Kami Graber (14 points), Brooklyn Short (13), Tierra Turner (12) and Patrice McBee (12) also reached double-figures.
"That's the way it's been all season," Purdue Calumet coach Tom Megyesi said. "It's all about team. The girls play unselfish basketball and that was certainly demonstrated tonight."
Deno scored eight of the Peregrines' first 19 points to help her team jump out to a 21-6 lead seven minutes into the contest. By halftime, PUC had opened up a commanding 48-23 advantage.
"My teammates did a nice job of setting me up," Deno said. "Everyone steps up when they have the opportunity to score. It's a different person every night, which makes us pretty hard to stop when we have so many weapons."
While Purdue Calumet was highly effective from beyond the arc, hitting 12 treys as a team, McBee provided a force inside, hitting four of her six shot attempts and bringing down seven rebounds.
"She is almost a secret weapon when you have four guards playing the way they do," Megyesi said. "Patrice can clean things up on the boards and has an outstanding shooting percentage inside the paint."
With the game already well in-hand, Graber provided the play of the night, connecting on a behind-the back layup with 14:47 remaining in the contest to stretch the PUC lead to 62-34.
"She just goes out there and plays basketball," Megyesi said. "That was a nice play from her and I was happy to see her complete it."
PUC lost to IUSB the last time the two teams took the court, dropping an 88-85 decision Feb. 8 in South Bend on the Titans' senior night. That defeat, Megyesi and Deno say, helped inspire the Peregrines to Thursday's blowout victory.
"Psychologically I think it helped," Megyesi said. "(IUSB) played inspired basketball last time and we wanted to make sure that didn't happen again. We really stepped it up mentally tonight for that reason."
Deno said the team "really wanted some revenge" from the last meeting.
The Peregrines, ranked 15th in the latest National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics poll, are assured of a spot in the NAIA National Tournament by virtue of winning the CCAC regular season title. But Megyesi and Deno say that does not limit the importance of today's 5 p.m. title game against Olivet Nazarene.
"It's going to be big," Deno said. "We want to be able to say we could win the regular season and conference tournament. We have some momentum from tonight's game and need to keep that going heading into Nationals."
"We are going to have to be ready for whoever we play and take it from there," Megyesi said.