In a key match-up against the Iowa Hawkeyes, Purdue came out flat for most of the first half. Missing open shots, defensive assignments, and free throws, and committing 16 turnovers, the first half mercifully ended on an Iowa putback. Purdue found themselves down 35-25 at halftime. Iowa has been on a bit of a roll lately, and always seems to have plenty of good shooters. Purdue was lucky to be down by only 10 after such a bad half of play.
Ashley Morrissette gave the team a pep talk at half time, followed by no doubt an animated talking to by Coach Versyp. Thinking of the won battle of Terry Kix and others over cancer, as well as relatives lost to the dreaded disease, the Boilers came out in the second half to make a statement on Breast Cancer Awareness Sunday. And boy did they ever, outscoring the Hawkeyes 47-17 in the second half. Considering the opposition, this was arguably the best half of basketball played all season long by the Gold and Black, all dressed up in their pink and white uniforms. The third quarter was particularly impressive, with the Boilers outscoring the Hawkeyes 25-5.
Four great trends showed themselves in the second half. Only 5 turnovers. Out-rebounding Iowa so as the final tally was 54-30 rebounds in favor of Purdue. Clutch outside shooting. And high energy lock-down defense. Iowa just couldn’t hardly get off any decent shot, and this led to a final scoring of only 52 points, a season low for the Hawkeyes. The combination of halftime adjustments and playing with a competitive fire allowed the Boilers to put on quite a show for the final 2 quarters.
Once again Morrissette led the charge on offense, running the show while pouring in 25 points, adding in 6 rebounds, 6 assists, and 5 steals. It was a performance worthy of Big Ten player of the week. Bridget Perry went on a mission to rebound the basketball and finished with a team leading 11 rebounds. Andreona Keys was all over the court, often guarding Ally Disterhoft then shining on the rebounding and offensive side of the ball. Keys finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists, and 2 steals. Several of those shots were tough shots down low in the paint. Ae’Rianna Harris also had an outstanding overall game, finishing with 14 points, 9 rebounds, and another blocked shot. She only needs 2 more blocks to set the freshmen record. After missing the Rutgers game, Dominique McBryde also had a strong performance with 7 points and 8 rebounds.
After this monster second half and beat down of a good Iowa team, I had to wonder where has this team been for large portions of the season. While it is nice to see such a good win at this point in the season, 11 losses, some against bad teams, loom large. Injuries have played a factor, but inconsistency has kept the team on the outside looking in to the NCAA tournament. On the other hand the team is 8-6 in conference play and is still in the running for a double bye in the Big Ten Tournament. Great teamwork has been on display of late, with unselfish play and for the most part great effort.
Coming up is a winnable game at Minnesota on Thursday night, at 9 PM covered on BTN, followed by the final regular season contest against Northwestern in Mackey on Senior Day next Sunday. Win both of those games and we’ll have some good momentum going into the conference tournament. This is doable if the team can just keep up the intensity and poise shown in the second half against Iowa.