In the annual Hammer Down Cancer Game for Purdue women’s basketball, the Boilermakers shut down Illinois to secure a 70-54 win at Mackey Arena.
This was a big step forward after the collapse against Wisconsin in their last contest which saw them blow a 22 point lead. This team showed the ability to have a quick memory and did not let it impact their play tonight, for the most part.
It did not look that way from the beginning though, as Purdue came out ice cold from the field in the opening period. The Boilermakers shot just 16% from the field and 1-6 from behind the arc in the first quarter, allowing Illinois to get out to an 11-7 lead.
Whatever Katie Gearlds said in the timeout evidently worked, because Purdue came out like a completely different team in the second quarter. Led by Ava Learn and Abbey Ellis, the Boilermakers put up 25 on the Illini by shooting a much improved 50% and connecting on 7 of 10 attempts from the free-throw line. It appeared that Illinois had a bit of an adrenaline dump in the first quarter and then Purdue was able to slow things down and get back to their sets offensively.
That has been an odd habit by this team, scoring single digits in one quarter and then exploding the very next one. I’ve said this many times, but the next step for this program is finding that consistency for a full 40-minute game.
After that first quarter, Purdue had complete control of the game. They got a lot of open shots, both inside and in the midrange, several second-chance opportunities, and took care of the ball extremely well.
Purdue outscored Illinois by 15 in the second half after holding just a 1 point lead at halftime. Yes, Illinois is having a very down year, but this team needed a game to gain back their confidence after that Wisconsin loss. This game did just that.
Leading the way for Purdue was stud junior Jeanae Terry, who had a very impressive double-double, dropping 11 points on 5-10 shooting and snagging 17 rebounds as well. She also dished out 7 assists, which was a team-high on the night.
In total, 4 Boilermakers scored in double-figures en route to the victory in Terry, Rickie Woltman, Brooke Moore, and Ava Learn.
Woltman came on strong in the second half when Illinois was trying to play small ball. Woltman dominated the undersized Illini without their main post presences in Rubin and Lopes. Ava Learn has also stepped up this season and had herself a great game off the bench.
Purdue now moves to 15-11 on the season overall and 6-9 during conference play. Next time out, the Boilermakers will travel to Rutgers to take on the Scarlet Knights. Oddly enough, that is also when Matt Painter and the men’s team hosts Rutgers inside Mackey Arena. That game will be Sunday at 1:00 p.m. and be broadcast on Big Ten Network.