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Thursday, August 18th, 2011 - 2:24 pm

Offense is potent; defense is women’s b-ball team key

The 2011-12 women’s basketball season cannot arrive too soon for Purdue Calumet coach Tom Megyesi.

“Combine the players we have coming back with a good recruiting class,” he said, “and I think we have a team that can compete for a conference title.”

Last season, the Purdue Calumet finished 17-13 overall and a fourth place 7-5 in the Chicagoland Collegiate Conference Division II,

Tierra Turner driving to the hoop

All-CCAC returnees Turner (above) and

Two, explosive all-conference players return. Junior guard Tierra Turner (Merrillville) was CCAC II’s No. 2 scorer at19 points per game. She also led the conference in rebounding and assists. Senior guard Stephanie Beck (Mishawaka) returns a 17.3 scoring average. .

Hard-working, 5-10 junior forward Amanda Gaskin also is back to lend a solid rebounding (9.6 rpg) presence. Other experienced returnees include guards Brooklyn Short (Wabash) and Alex Starr (Plymouth) and front liners Madison Gervais (Mishawaka) and Lindsey Whitcomb (Valparaiso).

While the Peregrines return their top three scorers from last season’s No. 1 scoring conference team, the team must improve defensively after leading the CCAC II in points allowed.

Megyesi also has added what he considers a good group of newcomers.

Stephanie Beck making a jump shot

…sharp shooting Beck.

“I like our bench,” he said. “We have a lot of players who can come in and play any number of spots.”

As for the conference race… “Cardinal Stritch will be good again,” Megyesi said, “but the conference should be good all around. I think we’ll give them all they want; I can’t wait for the season to start.”

Like the men’s team, opening weekend is Nov. 4-5 in the Purdue Calumet Tip-Off Classic.