After dropping two straight in heartbreaking fashion, Purdue women’s basketball picked up a bounce-back 89-67 win over Illinois in Champaign.
This was one of the most complete games the Boilermakers have played this season considering all of the factors heading into tonight. It was an offensive outburst by the Boilermakers, which hadn’t been seen since their 101 point output against Denver back in mid-December.
After dropping winnable games against Iowa and Indiana both at home, tonight is just what this team needed to get their mojo back. Again, Purdue proves they can beat up on the middle to lower tier of the Big Ten which should be the expected outcome against a team like Illinois.
Throughout the first half, it looked like the emotion from the Indiana game was seeping into this one. Illinois came to play with some life in the first and much of the second quarter, leading the Boilermakers 30-27 with 3:23 left in the first half. Purdue then buckled down and started to play their game the way Katie Gearlds preaches.
The Boilermakers closed the half on a 13-0 run to make it a 10 point lead heading into the break. From that point on, it was all Purdue for the rest of the night. Leading the way for Purdue yet again was the energizing force off the bench, Brooke Moore, who scored all 14 of her points in the second half.
All three of the main contributors offensively for Purdue, Moore, Madison Layden, and Abbey Ellis were each in double figures in the second half which lifted Purdue to the win. Those three playing phenomenal games together is the peak for this team. When they are having their way offensively, it is going to be extremely difficult to beat them. Katie Gearlds will be looking for that to happen much more consistently for the Boilermakers to make a late-season run in the league and attempt to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
Abbey Ellis led all scorers with a game-high 21 points, including a 6-9 shooting performance from three-point range and dropping 5 assists as well. Ellis built off of her last game against Indiana when she was the driving force in the second half in all facets of the game.
Madison Layden also turned in one of her better performances of the season with 19 points on 50% shooting from the field and doing a little bit of everything. Layden hasn’t had many games that looked like it could give her some confidence to get things going on the offensive end of the floor, but tonight could have provided that spark.
Although Moore, Layden, and Ellis were the headliners, the role players stepped up in a big way to guide the Boilermakers tonight. All of the 8 players that played scored 5 or more points and 6 players scored 8 or more.
Even the freshmen, Ava Learn and Jayla Smith both had great games as well for the first time this season together. They combined for 16 points on 7-9 shooting and 5 rebounds between the two of them. Ava Learn has gained the trust of Katie Gearlds lately and has made the most of her opportunities. She has taken over the minutes of transfer forward Mide Oriyomi who was primed for a large role this season.
Next time out, Purdue will be looking to build off of this performance against yet another very tough opponent in No. 8 Michigan on the road. The Wolverines are an impressive 16-2 on the season and are coming off of a 39 point win over Wisconsin this evening. This will be one of the toughest tests of the season for the Boilermakers.