Coach Versyp has recently stated that she is pushing 4 areas of empasis for the team at this point in the season: defense, rebounding, transition, and waiting on screens. Wisconsin outrebounded the Boilers, but we shined in the other three aspects of the game in last night’s rout. The Badgers made things interesting for the first half and early in the 3rd quarter, but then the Boilers strung together at least two good runs to extend their lead. Defense is this team’s calling card, as the team leads the B1G in scoring defense. Thirteen steals led to 29 points off of 24 turnovers, as the Badgers just couldn’t find the handle in this one. Steals and other defensive stops led to 14 fast break points, and Purdue ran their half court offense as well as in any game this season.
Granted, Wisky is lacking in overall talent and athleticism, and Purdue took full advantage of the Big Ten’s last place team on their court. That being said, anything can happen in road games, so Purdue couldn’t afford to relax. After having only a 46-44 lead midway through the 3rd quarter, the Boilers went on a 12-0 run, and never looked back. Another 10-0 run in the 4th quarter and continued stellar defense allowed the team to pull away to an impressive win.
After the road loss to Northwestern to start the conference season, Purdue has really ratcheted up the defense in the past 3 games, holding all three opponents to 57 points or less. Playing basically a 7 player rotation due to injuries, with Miracle Gray getting some time mostly at the end of games, Purdue has really tightened things up on both ends of the basketball. The offense looked sharp as well, with crisp ball movement and improved play attacking a zone. Aside from the runouts, Purdue really played well in the half court, and committed only 9 turnovers in the entire game. Also, Purdue committed only 14 fouls and leads the conference in fewest fouls per game as well as the other statistic of scoring defense. The Boilers also assisted on 23 of 30 made baskets from the field and sank 8 three-pointers.
Five Boilers ended up in double figures, a testament to sharing the rock. Andreona Keys led the way with 18 points, having hit 3 three-pointers in the game, and added 4 assists and 5 steals. Ashley Morrisette followed with 16 points and 6 assists, having recovered from a blow to the face at the beginning of the game. Bridget Perry, Dominique Oden, and Ae’Rianna Harris also hit double figure scoring marks. Dominique McBryde missed out on a double double, with 9 points and 8 rebounds, also chipping in with 3 blocks. Harris had 2 blocks which gives her 29 blocks already as a freshman. It is safe to say she is the best shot blocker Purdue has had since Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton some years back, who is now Harris’ coach in post play.
Starting out the conference at 3-1 is a good thing, but things are about to get tougher real soon in the conference schedule. On Sunday, you can all watch Purdue take on Ohio State on ESPN2. That will be a tough matchup as Ohio State has the height and depth advantage, and also is going to be on a mission after being upset by Michigan State, a team Purdue manhandled just recently. Of course we know that the transitive property does not apply to sports. Not long after the Ohio State game, Purdue has road games at IU and Michigan State, as well as a tough matchup with Maryland coming into Mackey. We will see how Purdue holds up during this stretch, but at least it is encouraging that the tight rotation played has had good success the past couple of weeks.
A special shout-out is in order to Lamina Cooper, who is developing into quite an asset on both sides of the ball. Efficient would be a way to describe her game, as she seldom makes a bad play or takes a bad shot, and does a lot of the little things and does a good job rebounding. She seems to be following in the footsteps of Keys as being a solid utility player who can be counted on to do any number of things on the court.
Also, in a tragic piece of news, high school teammate of Cooper and Harris, Jordan Hankins, who played for Northwestern, was found dead in her dorm room just recently. Our heart goes out to her family and friends in this trying time.