After really mucking it up in the first half of the Boilers’ season opener on the road at CMU, Purdue really turned it around in the second half. It was the 5th largest comeback in program history after being down by 16 points. Purdue came out of the gate stone cold, standing around in the half court, and missing shots, hitting only 4 of their first 20 shots. The second quarter was at least a lot better but the Boilers were down by 12 at the half.
Then Tiara Murphy happened. Leading the way with torrid three point shooting, she was money from deep as Purdue scored 36 points in the third quarter alone, a record since the women’s game has gone to quarters instead of just halves.
Karissa McLaughlin was one of the main story lines, starting in her first regular season debut, the first since Courtney Moses did that in 2010. And she didn’t disappoint. She is simply ready for Power 5 conference basketball from the get go. She led the way with 21 points, 5 assists and 4 steals. She and Murphy combined for 9 of 16 from long range. She did a great job running the point, even doing so while at times Murphy moved over to the shooting guard position. Nothing like 2 great combo guards to choose from to run the point.
Murphy and Andreona Keys both contributed 19 points. Reyna Frost led all players with 23 points and 16 rebounds for CMU. She just didn’t have enough help.
Purdue really ratcheted up the defense in the second half, as their superior athleticism stymied Central Michigan. This led to winning the turnover margin by 23 to just 11 by the Boilers and a turnover scoring margin of 27-7.
On the bad side, it is already apparent that Purdue misses Nora Kiesler and Fatou Diagne, our two true centers at 6-6 and 6-4. Kiesler is expected back within the next week or two, while Diagne is most likely not going to play until the conference season starts. Purdue was out-rebounded badly, to the tune of 40-24. We got away with that stat in this one, but something good better happen in that category by the time Big Ten season starts, or this team will end up underachieving for the season, especially in the half court. If this year’s team can run and gun, especially after steals, great things can happen. However it has already been seen that lack of enough post presence is hurting us, especially in the half court game. Speed and athleticism and great outside shooting are all impressive, but rebounds still need to happen for a truly successful season.
That being said, it was good to see Purdue turn on the lights in the second half and play that well as a team with almost all freshmen and sophomores on the roster. With so many young players, holding the turnovers to just 11 was great. CMU is the best MAC team again this year, returned all of their major contributors, and rarely loses at home, so this was an important win for our program.