Boilermakers improve to 18-2 in first round with win over Charlotte

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. -- Another year, another early win for Purdue in the NCAA tournament.

Danielle Campbell scored 12 points, and No. 6 seed Purdue downed 11th-seeded Charlotte 65-52 Saturday for its 12th straight first-round win, this time in the Oklahoma City Regional.

Purdue (23-10) hasn't lost in the opening round since 1996, and the Boilermakers improved to 18-2 in the first round.

"When you have been here before, it helps," Purdue senior Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton said. "You've been here and you're experienced. Every team at that first game, your nerves kind of get to you and you kind of work out the kinks as this tournament goes on. We're going to get more and more confident."

They will play No. 3 seed North Carolina, an 85-80 winner over UCF, in the second round Monday night in the teams' third meeting in the past four NCAA tournaments.

"It seems like it's always that way," Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said of seeing North Carolina again. "I guess they enjoy seeing both programs, if it's possible, if both can advance to go head to head."

Charlotte (23-9) missed on making school history with an NCAA win in its second trip, and the 49ers can blame themselves. A team averaging 19.4 turnovers per game had 20 in the first half alone and finished with 28, one off its worst of the season.

"It was a mixture of nerves and overexcitement for us, as well as the pressure, that got us," Charlotte senior Traci Ray said. "We were just a little antsy. We were shooting too fast. We didn't get into our offense very well and didn't reverse the ball."

Aysha Jones had a game-high 24 points for Charlotte, and Danielle Burgin had 10.

Purdue's roster is loaded with experience thanks to five seniors, led by Wisdom-Hylton, the Big Ten's active career scoring leader. And these seniors want more than just making a regional final, something they last did in 2007.

Brittany Rayburn and FahKara Malone each had 11 points, and Wisdom-Hylton finished with 10. Rayburn's points came in 14 minutes off the bench before she fouled out.

This was Charlotte's eighth straight postseason appearance, and the 49ers thought they were ready to take the program to a new level with an NCAA win. But the Atlantic 10's best shooting team -- 17th in the country -- couldn't match its 45 percent average and couldn't hit the boards hard enough to make up for their mistakes.

Jones called it a wonderful experience.

"We'll be back next year and make a statement. It's a wonderful experience for this year and a learning step for next year," she said.

At least four 49ers had three turnovers apiece in the first half, and Purdue made them pay, turning the mistakes into 16 points. The Boilermakers finished with 26 points off those turnovers.

The 49ers led 20-17 on a layup by Erin Floyd at 9:55 when Purdue took control with 15 straight points in a run highlighted by three 3-pointers from Rayburn.

"It hurt us," Charlotte coach Karen Aston said. "It hurt our momentum. We were playing pretty well in a good flow, and that got us out of sorts and probably scarred our confidence a bit. Then they started rolling."

Floyd ended the more than five-minute drought for Charlotte with a jumper at 4:28. But Purdue still led 34-25 at halftime despite Jones' 3 with 2 seconds left.

Purdue didn't give Charlotte any chance to make a run in the second half, scoring 10 of the first 13 points. Danielle Campbell's second bucket in that stretch gave Purdue its biggest lead at 44-28 with 15:59 to go. The Boilermakers led by as much as 20 before Charlotte tried to whittle away at that margin behind Jones.

The 49ers just ran out of time.