The No. 20 Purdue University Calumet women’s basketball team secured its bid to host a Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference tournament contest with Wednesday’s 83-73 league victory over rival Calumet College of St. Joseph.
Led by eighth-year Head Coach Tom Megyesi, the Peregrines (20-7, 12-5 CCAC) also clinched its fourth-straight 20-win season, as Purdue Calumet has compiled an 89-34 (.724) overall mark dating back to the 2011-12 campaign.
With Wednesday’s victory, the Peregrines can finish no lower than the No. 2 seed in the CCAC South Division, with Olivet Nazarene (11-5) and St. Francis (11-5) still with one game left to play. Purdue Calumet holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Tigers, who upset No. 5 Cardinal Stritch (23-4, 14-3) Wednesday.
That means the Black and Gold will host either the North Division #3 seed or the winner of Monday’s play-in contest on Wednesday, Feb. 25, at the Fitness and Recreation Center. The winner of Wednesday’s game will advance to the CCAC Tournament semifinals at the highest overall seed remaining in the tournament. CCAC unbeaten and fourth-ranked St. Xavier (26-2, 17-0) clinched the league regular-season title with its win over Roosevelt Wednesday night.
Junior Jada Buggs (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Memorial) led the way against CCSJ (9-21, 3-13) with 26 points on 9 of 12 shooting and added 12 rebounds for her fifth double-double of the season and classmate Patrice McBee (Monterey, Ind./Culver Community) added 18 points and 12 rebounds for her team-leading 15th double-double in 2014-15.
Senior Kami Graber (Nashville, Ind./Brown County) added 11 points and six assists and sophomore Cassidy Deno added seven points, seven rebounds and four assists for the Peregrines, who improved to 14-3 all-time over the Crimson Wave.
Purdue Calumet jumped out early, as the Peregrines found themselves up 21-5 after Buggs drained four triples in the games first six minutes. That lead didn’t hold, however, as CCSJ put together a 18-8 run over the next six minutes to cut the Peregrine lead to six, 29-23, with 5:12 before the break. The Crimson Wave would then grab the momentum heading into halftime, capitalizing off a Peregrines turnover on the final possession for a Latoi Merriweather jumper before the buzzer sounded to trail by just three, 38-35, at halftime.
A Sammy Dillman (Bedford, Ind./North Lawrence) jumper put the Peregrines up seven with 13:12 to go in the second half, but the Black and Gold weren’t able to pull away, as CCSJ cut that lead back to just two (51-49) after two Dariyan Morris free throws.
The Crimson Wave briefly took the lead at the 9:33 mark after a Merriweather jumper made it 58-57 Calumet College, but McBee three-point play answered for Purdue Calumet. Still, the Peregrines’ lead was just three, 74-71, with 2:18 to play before the visitors used a 9-2 run to close the game.
Buggs hit 3 of 4 free throws, Dillman drilled a pair, and Deno sunk two to help the Peregrines finish 17 of 23 from the charity stripe for the game. In comparison, Calumet College finished 7-for-7 from the free-throw line.
Morris led the Crimson Wave with 20 points, seven assists and seven boards, China Cordova had 15 points and Merriweather finished with 10 points to lead CCSJ in the loss.
Purdue Calumet finished 46.7 percent (28 of 60) from the field compared to 37.3 (28 of 75) for CCSJ and the Peregrines held a big advantage on the boards, 50-31.
Final tournament pairings and times will be announced following Saturday’s contests, though Wednesday concluded the regular season for the Purdue Calumet women, who hope to return to the NAIA Division II National Tournament for the third-straight season.