Whew! The stars and planets must have all lined up for Purdue to get this win. The Boilers were down 59-55 in the final minute of play, when 4 positive things happened. Dominique Oden stole the ball and made a 2 point run-out layup. Andreona Keys sunk 2 clutch free throws. Ae’Rianna Harris blocked a Lauren Douglas shot. Then with 4.1 seconds left, Ashley Morrissette threw up an air ball, which Keys grabbed under the basket and put in as a layup with less than 1 second left in regulation. The ball was no more than 2 or 3 feet out of her hands when the final buzzer sounded.
This was a hard fought game in every sense possible. Northwestern played one hell of a good basketball game. The final outcome was in doubt pretty much the entire way, up until the final buzzer. Purdue led the way for much of the game, and went into halftime with a 33-25 lead. This didn’t last however as the Wildcats fought back and at one point spanning the 3rd and 4th quarters, went on a 15-0 run on the Boilers. But our team never gave up, setting up the heroics down the stretch.
Seniors Morrissette and Perry didn’t have their most productive games, but other players picked up the slack. The Boilers played only 7 deep, but all 7 players scored between 6 and 13 points. That is the very definition of good teamwork. Shots didn’t fall, shots got blocked, Purdue lost the turnover margin by only 2, but the team did what it had to do when it counted.
Keys led the way with 13 points, 9 rebounds, and 4 assists. Morrissette and Oden both scored in double figures with 10 and 11 points, respectively. Oden picked the perfect time to come out of a 4 game cold shooting spell, sinking two key three pointers late, before the final run-out. Harris did another fine job in contributing 6 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocked shots, and a steal. She also held her own on defense against all-star Nia Coffey and a hot shooting Lauren Douglas. At one point, lefty Lamina Cooper hit three quick layups from the left side of the basket. Oden and Keys scored the final 14 points for the Boilers.
This was a pivotal game, that is for sure. Northwestern slid to the 9 seed, where they will have to play Ohio State if the Wildcats win their first game in the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue got the 5 seed, finishing the conference season at a respectable 10-6 record, good for tied for 4th place. However, the bad loss earlier in the conference season at IU proved to be pivotal as it gave IU the 4 seed in a tie breaker and the last double bye. So on Thursday afternoon around 2:30, Purdue will play the winner of Nebraska and Illinois. That better be a win, although nothing is assured in the BTT. Assuming Purdue wins that one, it will result in a rematch between Purdue and IU. It may not be quite the rivalry as it is on the men’s side, but boy don’t we hate to lose to IU in anything? If Purdue wins both of those games, a likely matchup with Ohio State would be up in the semi-finals. Even if Purdue were to lose that game, 2 wins in the tournament, something quite doable, would result in a 21-11 record. Those are big ifs, but perhaps it might allow Purdue to slip back into the NCAA tournament. But first things first, games have to be approached one at a time. Still, we have to count our blessings that fate was on our side in the regular season finale against a tough senior dominated Northwestern squad. Kudos once more to Andreona Keys for the clutch play of the season so far.