Purdue suffered a gut-wrenching 73-68 loss in the Barn Burner Trophy Game to archrival Indiana inside Mackey Arena on Sunday afternoon.
This one was just about as heartbreaking as it gets for the Boilermakers. Purdue was up 7 with less than two minutes left and was unable to close things out against the No. 6 team in the country.
Today went from one of the best wins in the last several years to yet another loss against the Hoosiers which makes it now 6 in a row since the Boilers have held the Barn Burner Trophy in West Lafayette.
When you play teams as good as Indiana is this year, the mistakes down the stretch are amplified due to their ability to keep themselves in every game.
Those two glaring miscues today were Jeanae Terry’s bad inbounds pass to allow Indiana to take the lead on a Grace Berger floater and the subsequent missed free throw with about a second left in regulation by Abbey Ellis that would have iced the game for the Boilermakers.
Once this game hit overtime, you could tell Indiana had all of the momentum and woke up to the fact that they are indeed the No. 6 team in the country. Indiana simply performed better when it mattered most, and sometimes that is just how things go.
Purdue did prove a lot in this game, despite the disappointing ending for the Boilermakers. They have the ability to beat the top tier of the Big Ten which will be the next step to take given how the season has progressed to this point. Things will start bouncing their way as the younger girls on this team continue to mature in their college basketball careers.
Until that point of collapse, Purdue played very well and improved upon their last couple of outings. Katie Gearlds has shortened up the bench of late, and it was paying dividends this afternoon for about 38 minutes.
Abbey Ellis and Brooke Moore continued their hot stretch and helped give the Boilermakers life in this one. That was needed coming into their toughest test of the season by far. The backcourt duo combined for 37 points, 14 rebounds, and 4 assists. Ellis also had a defensive gem for much of the game against Indiana star, Ali Patberg, before she inevitably got going late in the fourth and early in the overtime period for the Hoosiers.
Down the stretch, it was interesting to see Gearlds’ lineups when the game was on the line. Jeanae Terry has been key for Purdue this year but had one of her worst games in a Boilermaker’s uniform today. She seemed out of sorts in a few different instances, and with Ava Learn having herself a solid outing, it was a bit head-scratching to see Terry playing over her.
There isn’t a lot you can critique of the Boilermakers, like I said, until the closing minutes of regulation and the overtime period. Situational basketball and basketball IQ for Purdue was the weakness and the reason this team was unable to come out of today with a win. At the end of the day, that is what it boils down to.
Yet again, the inability to play a complete 40-minute game was what hindered Purdue. Their first half was all that you could ask for out of a team that is severely outmatched in terms of skill. That just caught up with them at the worst time today. As I have said throughout this season, it is going to be a massive learning process for Purdue and Katie Gearlds as she learns how to navigate the Big Ten. This team will learn from today and bounce back as they have already shown earlier this year.
Purdue has now lost two straight after a previous 5 game winning streak that dated back to the middle of December. Next time out, the Boilermakers will travel to Champaign to take on the struggling Fighting Illini. Illinois is just 6-9 on the season and 1-3 during conference play after an 18 point loss to Penn State this afternoon. This is a game the Boilermakers should win, and cannot afford to let this loss creep into next week. The game is slated for Thursday, January 20th at 8:00 p.m. and will be available on B1G+.