Sharon Versyp picked up her 25th Big Ten Tournament win which is the most all-time as the Boilermakers picked up a win over the #8 seed Michigan State Spartans by a score of 72-63.
Purdue shot out of the gates fast and furious as they made 7 of their first 10 shots to get out to a 16-6 lead just over 5 minutes into the game. Dominique Oden and Ae’Rianna Harris both scored 6 points in the first quarter and the Boilers assisted on 8 of the 9 shots they made. On the flip side, Michigan State scored just 11 points on 4-17 shooting from the field as Purdue played great defense. After holding a 20-11 to close out the first quarter the Boilers hit a cold stretch to begin the quarter. That was until Karissa McLaughlin hit two shots from deep and Cassidy Hardin splashed a three of her own over a two-minute stretch to extend the Purdue lead to 14 with a minute left before the break. Michigan State then scored to cut it to 11 heading into intermission.
Coming out of halftime, neither team’s offense was very effective as it was more of a defensive battle in the third quarter with Purdue outscoring the Spartans 16-12. Purdue shot just 5-14 from the floor but they did hit 6 of 9 free throws. After hitting three shots from deep in the first half, Karissa McLaughlin went 0-5 from the field in the third quarter, but the Boilers locked down Michigan State similar to the first quarter as the Spartans scored only 12 points on just 4-20 shooting from the field. The Boilers started off the fourth quarter with a 53-38 lead before Michigan State started mounting a comeback as they went on a 15-8 run to cut the lead to 6 with 3:01 left in the game. Karissa McLaughlin then responded right away with back-to-back mid-range jumpers at the 2:38 and 1:55 marks of the fourth quarter. Michigan State hit some clutch jumpers late in the game, but Purdue responded yet again as Fatou Diagne got wide-open layups on consecutive possessions. Michigan State was not able to secure the comeback as they could not capitalize on the shots they took in the last minute of the game as Purdue squeezed out a much-needed win.
This was a must-win for the Boilermakers as they are making a push to get into the NCAA Tournament and they responded as such. At 18-13 on the season, Purdue could be on the right side of the bubble with Selection Sunday coming up in just a few days.
Purdue’s “Big 3” all came to play today and their performances were the driving forces behind the Boilermakers’ huge second-round win.
Karissa McLaughlin led the team in scoring with 17 points on 6-19 shooting which included 3 three-pointers that all came in the first 20 minutes of the game and were a big reason how the Boilers got out to a big lead throughout the first half. She also dished out another team-high 7 assists and played all 40 minutes of the win.
Seniors Dominique Oden and Ae’Rianna Harris played in what could have been their final collegiate games and shined in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Oden posted 15 points on an outstanding 7-10 clip, adding 4 rebounds and 3 assists to her line as well. She also passed Purdue legend Katie Gerald’s for the most career minutes by a Boilermaker in today’s game.
Ae’Rianna Harris who played for Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis played an all-around fantastic game in her hometown. She put up a double-double as she scored 15 points on 5-12 shooting from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds while also sending back 7 Michigan State shots. It is easy to tell that she relishes the opportunity to play at home and it shows on the court.
The other Boiler who had a double-double was Fatou Diagne as she had 11 points and 12 rebounds and came up big late in the game to seal the Spartan’s faith.
Purdue will now move on to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament to face off against Maryland who thrashed the Boilermakers by 43 in their last meeting late in the season. If the Boilers are to pull off the upset, the trio of McLaughlin, Oden, and Harris will need to have their best games of the season and Sharon Versyp will need contributions from role players like Cassidy Hardin, Kayana Traylor, and Fatou Diagne. Maryland is on a role, but nothing is set in stone during March Madness. The Boilermakers will take on the regular-season Big Ten champs tomorrow, at noon on BTN.