What looked like a promising week for the Women's Basketball team quickly unraveled and ended in about the worse possible way. The team picked up a win over Illinois 80-68 on Monday. On Thursday night they dropped a close game to Penn State 75-72. To end the week they lost to Michigan State 89-73 and KK Houser tore her ACL. Purdue stands at 15-7, 5-5 in conference (6th).
A strong second half finish helped Purdue put away the Illini last Monday night. The Boilermakers had the lead from the start en route to a 38-32 advantage at the half. Midway through the second half Illinois cut the margin to two but a 12-2 Purdue run dashed any hopes of Illinois win as Purdue controlled the game the rest of the way.
Courtney Moses lead the Boilers with 22 points in the win. KK Houser had 17 points and 6 assists. April Wilson added 15 points and 8 rebounds.
In a showdown of top 25 teams the No. 12 Nittany Lions came out on top. Purdue started the game on top. Maggie Lucas for could hardly miss in the first half for Penn State as Purdue was unable to get a lead larger than seven and lost the lead three times. Purdue did finish the half on top, 34-33.
Penn State came out strong in the second half and took advantage of Purdue mistakes. A minute into the half Penn State gained the lead. From there Purdue would tie it up twice but never take the lead back. Penn State could never stretch their lead to double digits as Purdue kept themselves in the game. Purdue set themselves up with an opportunity to get the lead at the end of the game but they couldn't convert.
A Liza Clemons layup drew the Boilers within three with 1:22 left in the game. KK went to the line with 37 seconds left and hit one of two to cut the margin to two. The door was left open for Purdue after Ariel Edwards missed two free throws with 21 seconds left. Purdue had the ball for the last shot. The plan was to drive to the basket but KK Houser put up a three that missed. Penn State grabbed the rebound and got fouled with two seconds left. Unable to shut the door, Penn State only hit one of two free throws. Sadly Purdue wasn't able to get off a desperation heave before the final buzzer.
KK Houser finished the game with 27 points. Whitney Bays added 12 points and 15 rebounds. The telling stats of the game though were Purdue's turnovers, 18; Penn State's fast break points, 22; and Penn State's advantage in the paint, 44-22. The game was nearly decided at the charity stripe which is where Penn State did their worst shooting; 44%, 39%, 38% (fg%, 3pt%, ft%). Purdue did just the opposite 32%, 24%, 90%. Maggie Lucas finished with 23 for Penn State and Ariel Edwards added 21.
Michigan State started the second half strong and that was the end of it for the Boilers. In the first half Purdue and MSU traded the lead multiple times as neither team led by double digits. At the break Michigan State led 39-38. A 28-13 run by the Spartans to start the second half gave them the lead for good. Purdue was never able to cut the lead to single digits after that.
While forward Whitney Bays was the leading scorer for Purdue with 22 points, Purdue could not match Michigan's production in the paint being outscored 52-32. All those close range shots allowed MSU to finish the game shooting 50% from the field.
The loss hurts, but the most crushing blow of the day was the injury suffered by KK Houser. With 5:12 left KK Houser went up for a lay-up and came down hard on her left knee. The diagnosis came Monday after a MRI, she tore her ACL. During her sophomore year she tore her ACL in her right knee. Currently KK is the teams leading scorer averaging almost 16ppg, 7th in the B1G. Additionally she's one of seven in program history to have 1000+ points, 400+ assists, and 200+ steals. The injury is likely the end of a great career for KK.
This week Purdue will have to learn how to play without KK; they'll try and do that against Ohio State Thursday, and against Michigan on Sunday. We dropped our conference opener to the Buckeyes in Columbus on 1-2. Ohio State is 4-5 in conference now. Michigan is just ahead of us in the conference standings at 5-4.
Hard days are ahead. How the team plays this week will be a good indication of how the season will end. There are six games left on the schedule. If Purdue can win three of those they should be able to make the tournament. The pressure is now on Courntey Moses to put up numbers every night. April Wilson will need to step up as full-time point guard. Thus far this season she has been a consistent performer averaging 9.8 ppg and 4.2 apg. Ashley Morrissette and Hayden Hamby will likely see more increased minutes moving forward.
Despite the losses last week Purdue was voted to a No. 25 ranking.