Katie Gearlds and company got their biggest win of the young season with a 66-61 upset victory over No. 17 Florida State at the St. Pete Showcase.
What a win for those ladies. Coming off of a sour defeat at the hands of No. 22 West Virginia, Purdue showed incredible resiliency to knock off the ranked Seminoles. This was much needed after this team lost two of three and let another upset opportunity against the Mountaineers slip away.
Fans can already the complete switch in culture for this program compared to last season. This same game last year would have ended as a double-digit loss for Purdue, instead, the Boilermakers get a statement win in non-conference.
Katie Gearlds has these girls fighting so hard and growing game by game, it is truly the start of something special in West Lafayette. The real improvement comes from fixing the mistakes of past games, which cannot be said of the previous handful of seasons for Purdue.
Another thing that can be taken away from this game is the ability Purdue showed of enduring runs and responding even better.
The Boilermakers started hot as they took a 9 point lead by the end of the first quarter and put the Seminoles on notice. It appeared as if the wheels were completely falling off in the second quarter as Purdue failed to score a single point in the period. This allowed Florida State to go on a 16-0 run to gain a 33-26 lead by halftime.
Coming out of the break, Purdue found a second wind though. They were able to put together stops and scores to close in on the Seminoles, and thanks to a Brooke Moore three at the buzzer, tied things up heading into the fourth quarter.
From there, it was just a grind-it-out battle. Purdue leaned on Ra’Shaya Kyle who dropped 9 of her 13 points in the final frame and score a big bucket with under a minute left to seal it for the Boilermakers. Kyle finished with the aforementioned 13 points and added 10 rebounds for her second double-double of the year.
Although Kyle came up in the clutch, the player of the game has to be Cassidy Hardin. The senior sniper connected on a career-best 6 three-pointers which also led to a career-high 18 points. Hardin has been a huge part of Purdue’s success this year as she has been the most consistent three-point shooter for Katie Gearlds.
Madison Layden also showed improvement after her recent cold stretch as she score 16 points, added in 7 rebounds, and dished out 4 assists in the win. She still had an off night shooting-wise as she went 5-16 from the field, but was able to connect on two free throws late to put the nail in the coffin.
Another player that had a bit of a slow start to her Boilermaker career is Illinois transfer, Jeanae Terry. Today, she put together her best performance and showed why this coaching staff wanted her desperately out of the transfer portal. Terry had 8 points on a modest 3-5 shooting night but had a game-high 10 assists. This was huge as Abbey Ellis was held in check today. Terry stepped up big time and is coming into her own recently.
Last time out, I was a bit hard on this team as they simply played poorly against West Virginia. They came out and showed massive improvements this afternoon, especially in the turnover column. The Mountaineers forced Purdue into 24 turnovers on Thursday evening, but the Boilermakers committed only 10 today. When you make teams beat you as opposed to beating yourself, you are going to have much more success. That’s what we saw today.
Today was a huge win and something these girls can build on heading into the latter half of non-conference play before their Big Ten slate starts. This was a type of game that gives a team confidence, but they have to beware of the hangover effect that so many teams see after big victories.
Purdue will return home on Wednesday evening to take on Georgia Tech in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. This will be yet another tall task for the Boilermakers as Georgia Tech comes into the game at 5-1, with their only loss coming against Auburn last Sunday. The game will be at 7 p.m. from inside Mackey Arena and you can watch it on Big Ten Network.