After dropping an away and another tournament game in Maine over the weekend, the Boilers bounced back with a 71-41 win over USC Upstate Thursday evening.
The outside shots were still not falling for the most part, but the post play dominated the game. Purdue grabbed 55 rebounds of which 21 were on the offensive side. High rebounding totals were partially due to a definite height advantage, but also show the effort expended, which was not there so much in the two opening losses. The Boilers also got back on track defensively, holding Upstate to 29% shooting and 25 rebounds.
True enough, the competition level wasn’t there, but the Boilers needed a victory to get back on track. It is quickly becoming apparent that the three freshmen Ae’Rianna Harris, Dominique Oden, and Lamina Cooper will be major contributors all season long. All three have shown maturity and athleticism at a high level already in their brief Purdue careers, and only look to get better over the course of the season. Harris scored 7 points, got 5 rebounds and blocked 1 shot, emphatically. Oden finished with 8 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and two steals, while Cooper reached double digits in scoring with 10 points, adding 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 steal. Cooper is a great offensive threat in addition to her role as a defensive stopper.
The team was led by Dominique McBryde who had a double double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. She simply continues to up her game and has made herself into a very key player at the forward position. Andreona Keys had a good bounce back game with 11 points, 5 assists, and 11 rebounds. The starting guards Ashley Morrissette and Tiara Murphy had another tough night with poor outside shooting percentages, but they did an admirable job in running the offense sharing the point guard duties. The goal is to get Murphy more at the point and Morrissette at more of a shooting guard, but both are capable combo guards. It also helps to have Oden available at the shooting guard position. The offense pushed the ball the entire game and fed it into the post with great effectiveness. Now more outside shots need to start to fall, as opponents are going to play zone defense until those shots fall on a more regular basis.
Overall, it was satisfying to see consistent effort and effective teamwork, two things that were lacking in the opening losses. One bugaboo is losing the turnover battle 16-12, so a lot of those turnovers need to be cleaned up. This should come as so many new players are being worked into a steady rotation. Speaking of rotation, the Boilers look to wear other teams down through good conditioning and a solid group of players coming in off the bench.
The competition is fixing to get much tougher as the season progresses and the team works into the conference season, but a win like this can only help the team to get the young players experience, work out rotations blending the younger and more experienced players, and build team confidence.