Senior Day was a success as KK Houser returned to the floor playing alongside her fellow seniors in the final game of the regular season. Purdue made a statement dominating Nebraska from start to finish, winning 82-66.
Most assumed KK Houser had played her last game on Keady Court after she tore her ACL in East Lansing against Michigan State a month ago. Fortunately for KK she would play for the fans in Mackey one more time. KK came out and went through warm-ups and started the game Sunday alongside April Wilson, Liza Clemons and fellow seniors Dee Dee Williams and Courtney Moses. KK played the first 2:34. While KK was a bit of a defensive liability Purdue had a 2-0 lead when she checked out.
From there Purdue kept the pressure on. Courtney Moses put up the next eight points forcing a Nebraska timeout. Nebraska soon got on the board, but Purdue continued to put up points. Midway through the half Hayden Hamby came off the bench providing a spark and putting up seven points stretching the the lead to 26-7. Purdue finished the half up 43-23. Moses was 5-6 in the half and perfect from the line as she had 18 points. Dee Dee Williams and company effectively neutralized Jordan Hooper. Hooper didn't score til 6:46 left in the half.
Hooper was more involved in the second half but the deficit was too much to overcome. Purdue kept scoring the ball with ease. Bridget Perry provided another great performance off the bench scoring 11 points and assisting on a Moses triple. Hooper finished the game with 11 points and eight boards. Rachel Theriot delivered a strong performance for the Huskers in the second half only missing one shot finishing 10-15 from the field for 24 points on the day.
The day belonged to the seniors and they delivered. Courtney Moses finished the day with 29 points moving into 9th on the career scoring list passing assistant coach Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton and Carol Emanuel. Dee Dee Williams only recorded a single point but she had six assists and was relentless against Jordan Hooper keeping her well below her 20 ppg average. KK Houser entered the game briefly at end before returning to the bench amid a standing ovation. In those last minutes she was able to pull down two rebounds.
Several underclassmen played well; Hamby finished with 10. Perry and Liza Clemons added 12 a piece. April Wilson recorded 10 points and 6 assists. Whitney Bays had 10 rebounds to go with her 8 points.
Moving forward Houser will continue to dress and go through warm-ups but only anticipates seeing the floor at the end of blow-out wins.
Purdue ended the season fourth in the conference with an 11-5 record in league play. They shared the spot with Iowa who had a matching record. Michigan State and Penn State shared the regular season title both finishing 13-3. If Nebraska had won against the Boilers they also would've won a share but instead ended conference play 12-4.
Purdue received the No. 4 seed in the Big Ten Tourney. Iowa is No. 5; Purdue won the only match-up between the teams this season therefore owning the tiebreaker. Purdue will face the winner of No. 5 Iowa and No. 12 Illinois on Friday at 2:30. A detailed bracket including TV coverage can be found here.
Purdue is the reigning conference tournament champ. For one reason or another Purdue always seems to be able to play some of their best ball in the conference tournament. This year should be no different. Purdue is peaking and has established themselves as a power even without KK. I anticipate Purdue knocking off Penn State before squeaking past Michigan State in the final. Moses will be the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament.
Besides the conference tournament the end of the regular season also brings conference awards. Player of the Year Honors went to Penn State's Maggie Lucas and Nebraska's Jordan Hooper. Lucas was the media's choice while Hooper was the coaches'. Connie Yori of Nebraska was Coach of the Year as voted by her peers. Coquese Washington from Penn State received the same honor from the Media. Nittany Lion Dara Taylor was the Defensive Player of the Year, and Amanda Zahui from Minnesota was Freshman of the Year. Purdue's own Whitney Bays was the Sixth Player of the Year.
In addition to Bays other Boilers received accolades. Courtney Moses was a unanimous first team selection among the coaches and also made the media's first team. Wisdom-Hylton was the last Boiler to make the first team back in 2009. KK Houser received second team honors for her efforts in 11 conference contests. Bays also made the media second team and coaches honorable mention. April Wilson was and honorable mention selection by both the media and coaches.
Purdue rose to No. 17 in the polls this week.