HAMMOND | Purdue Calumet pulled away with an 87-77 victory over visiting Olivet Nazarene on Saturday to claim the Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament championship, the Peregrines' first since 1996.
"This is really unbelievable. It really hasn't sunk in yet," Purdue Calumet coach Tom Megyesi said. "We were so focused on the game, the feeling of what we just accomplished might not sink in until tomorrow."
Tierra Turner made a statement in her final home game as a Peregrine, pouring in a game-high 30 points on 11-of-24 shooting, including 18 points in the second half.
"The first half is usually my better half, but I had a fire lit under me knowing this would be my last time stepping on the Purdue Calumet court after five years with the program," Turner said.
Megyesi called Turner, who added 10 rebounds and four steals in the win, "a senior leader" on the court.
"She just wanted the ball and to do whatever it took to win the game," he said. "She really came through with some big drives down the stretch."
The pace of the game was quick due to Olivet Nazarene's run-and-gun style and subbing in five players every minute or so. To combat that strategy, Purdue Calumet would have four players ready on defense whenever they attempted a free throw.
"That gave us some extra rest, and we were waiting at the 3-point line for them after they had to run down the court," Megyesi said.
Olivet averages 60 3-point shots a game, and Megyesi said it was key for the Peregrines to hold them to 11-of-37 from beyond the arc.
"I credit our defense. They were clicking on all cylinders tonight," he said.
The Peregrines also had a distinct advantage on the boards, out-rebounding the Tigers 67-39.
"That's what we focused on — contesting the 3s and getting the rebounds when they missed," Megyesi said. "Our whole team went after the ball tonight."
Purdue Calumet jumped out to an 8-2 lead, then trailed by as many as eight before taking a 44-39 advantage into the half.
"We had the right attitude tonight, and that will certainly carry over to the national tournament," Megyesi said.
The win was particularly special for Turner, who said she has never been on a team to win a tournament of this magnitude.
"This gives me so much satisfaction," she said. "I've been playing basketball since I was in fourth grade and never had won a regional or sectional championship, let alone be able to cut down the nets. It is a dream come true."
Cassidy Deno (20 points), Brooklyn Short (13) and Patrice McBee (13) also scored in double figures for Purdue Calumet (24-6).
Olivet Nazarene was led by Miranda Geever's 25 points.