Purdue women’s basketball finishes non-conference play at a mark of 9-4 with a dominant 86-53 win over North Alabama Tuesday morning.
The Boilermakers come out of non-conference with an impressive record of 9-2, which is probably better than many expected coming into the season. They also have two more wins than all of last season when they had a brutal 7-16 record in 2020-21.
Purdue is also now on a three-game winning streak as the end of 2021 approaches in a week and a half or so. These last three matchups were much needed after a couple of embarrassing losses in the early part of Big Ten play. This morning in particular will give the Boilermakers a boost of confidence that they lacked just a few weeks ago.
Today’s finale was all Purdue from the opening tip. Cassidy Hardin and Rickie Woltman got to work early and often for Katie Gearlds. When Hardin starts the game hot, it’s going to be a long day for the Boilermakers opponent. This is one of the keys for Purdue’s success this season, get the shooters going early to make up for some of the talent discrepancies against the better teams in the Big Ten.
Heading into halftime it was still an 11 point Purdue lead, but the offense of North Alabama was able to keep up to an extent to stay within striking distance. The Boilermakers came out in the third quarter and put on an offensive clinic in Mackey Arena. Purdue dropped 27 points on an insane 11-16 shooting output from the field including 3-5 shooting from three-point range.
Brooke Moore came alive to lead the Boilermakers, scoring 12 of her game-high 17 points in the monster third quarter. Moore has had games where she explodes off the bench to give Purdue a go-to weapon offensively. If she can do that more often, the second unit for Katie Gearlds will be a scary bunch.
This game was out of hand in the fourth quarter which allowed some of the deeper reserves to get some playing time and coast to a 33 point victory.
Madison Layden has a quietly solid performance today as well. It has been a tough go for the Boilermakers sophomore leader as she has struggled with her shot for much of the year. Today she scored 13 points on a modest 4-8 shooting and added in 6 rebounds as well. It seems that Layden might be better suited shooting a bit less, as opposed to carrying the load offensively for the Boilermakers. Players like Moore, Ellis, and Hardin stepping up will help with that tremendously.
In the absence of Ra’Shaya Kyle who is dealing with a leg injury, Rickie Woltman has been thrust into the starting role and today she turned in her best performance as a Boilermaker. Woltman finished with her first career double-double with 14 points on 7-11 shooting and 11 rebounds. If Woltman can continue similar output throughout the season, Purdue will have themselves a nice front-court duo to play alongside the fast-paced guards.
You cannot find many things to critique on today’s performance as the Boilermakers had an easy day at the office. Now, Purdue will get into the meat of their schedule and the part that truly matters at the end of the day.
Getting back into conference play, the Boilermakers will start this stretch against a favorable set of teams. Purdue opens with Wisconsin at the Kohl Center, followed by a matchup against Rutgers at home and a trip to East Lansing to play Michigan State.
Wisconsin has had a brutal start to the season as they sit at 3-9 currently. This is a game the Boilermakers should win, even on the road in the Big Ten. Rutgers and Michigan State are 7-7 and 7-6 respectively and all three squads went a combined 1-5 during the two-game early part of Big Ten play.
We will learn a lot about the type of season Purdue could have by the second weekend of January, good or bad.
Next time out Purdue will travel to Wisconsin to take on the Badgers on December 30th at 9:00 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.