Purdue proved to be overmatched tonight in a 79-66 loss to No. 7 Michigan in Ann Arbor Monday night.
Another game against the top of the Big Ten, another disappointing outcome for the Boilermakers. It is clear to see that this team has the ability to compete with the Top 10 squads in the country but just aren’t there yet in terms of finishing those games and coming out with wins.
Over the previous four-game for Michigan, they had been blowing teams out by an average of 26.3 points per game and are one of the hottest teams in the country. For Purdue to hang with them for much of the game is encouraging, but they squandered an opportunity to pick up a marquee win over the Wolverines.
The glaring issue tonight was Purdue’s issues guarding the post, which is simply phenomenal between Naz Hillmon and Emily Kiser for Michigan. Hillmon absolutely torched the Boilermakers to the tune of 32 points on 12-14 shooting and 12 rebounds tonight. Katie Gearlds attempted to throw a few different looks at Hillmon with double teams, alternating players guarding her, and so on, but it was not going to make a difference in this one.
Another aspect of the game Purdue got dominated in was on the boards. Michigan pulled down 44 rebounds compared to 31 of the Boilermakers, but this was mostly as a result of the skill of Hillmon and Kiser for the Wolverines.
Despite Hillmon’s offensive explosion, Purdue kept the score close for much of the game until Michigan’s skills began to take over. The Boilermakers went into halftime down 7, with Michigan gaining some steam, but responded with a massive flurry coming out of the break to chop that lead to three midway through the third quarter. Unfortunately for Purdue, Michigan also hit their stride offensively and was able to fend them off.
After Purdue made it a 45-48 ballgame, they allowed an 11-2 run from the Wolverines to put themselves in an even bigger hole going into the fourth quarter. One thing that was interesting in that final quarter was the lack of minutes given to Abbey Ellis, who has proved to be a key part of the offense. Ellis played just three minutes, and second-lowest 19, while Jeanae Terry handled the bulk of the facilitator role.
Terry does a lot of things well, but putting the ball in her hands so often has proved to be detrimental to the Boilermakers. This isn’t a dig on Terry, because she plays well defensively and rebounds like a forward, but her role has been an odd one for the Boilermakers recently. When Ellis is on the court, the offense has more firepower and potential as a result of her three-point shooting and ability to blow by defenders off the dribble.
After the Illinois game, you could have seen Purdue come out firing and continue where they left off in Champaign but the three-point shooting did not make the trip to Ann Arbor. The Boilermakers connected on 8-24 shots from behind the arc and couldn’t get anyone in a groove for them. Brooke Moore was the go-to scorer for Katie Gearlds tonight with a team-high 16 points off the bench, while Madison Layden and Rickie Woltman both scored in double figures as well.
This season wasn’t going to be all sunshine and rainbows for Purdue, everyone knew that coming into the year. The beginning of the Big Ten slate for this team was brutal as they have played all 6 teams ahead of them in the standings coming into tonight’s contest. In those games, they are only 1-5 though, with their only win coming against Michigan State.
Luckily for Purdue, the schedule eases up quite a bit over the course of the regular season. After tonight’s result, all of the Boilermakers’ opponents are either within a half-game ahead of them or behind them in the Big Ten standings with the exception of Indiana.
Next time out they will look to bounce back against Minnesota at home. The Golden Gophers are 9-11 overall and 2-6 during Big Ten play, losing their last three as well. It will be a golden opportunity for Purdue to get back on track and start a run during the latter part of conference play. That game will be Thursday at 7:00 p.m. at Mackey Arena and will be broadcast on B1G+.