Purdue women’s basketball has now won back-to-back games late in the season with a 70-59 win against Rutgers in New Jersey. Not only has Purdue won two straight, but they have also found a bit of a groove, winning 3 out of their last 4 since falling to 3-8 during conference play.
This recent stretch has given the Boilermakers some confidence heading into the regular-season finale and the Big Ten Tournament in a week and a half. That was something Purdue was lacking with losses beginning to stack up and the NCAA Tournament most likely falling out of reach, so it is encouraging to see them still fighting for wins.
It was largely a back and forth game from the opening tip, with Purdue playing well but Rutgers responding each time down the floor. Ava Learn stepped up big in the first quarter, scoring 6 of her 13 points to pace the Boilermakers. They did improve a little bit in the second quarter though, this time thanks to the scoring by Abbey Ellis. Purdue closed the half with a quick 4-0 run to make it a 4 point ballgame at halftime.
Coming out of the break, the game looked like the first quarter again, with Purdue holding off Rutgers from making a run. They were able to preserve a 3 point lead heading into the fourth quarter, but things were a little shaky, especially after what we saw against Wisconsin last week.
Credit to Purdue, they completely dominated the fourth quarter and played to their potential. Despite getting pressed and pressured all the way up the floor, the Boilermakers made some great passes to get timely buckets. They were also pests on the defensive end of the floor, forcing 6 Rutgers turnovers. These weren’t necessarily bad turnovers by the Scarlet Knights, rather phenomenal instincts by Purdue to swipe it away and capitalize off those turnovers.
Abbey Ellis led the Boilermakers in scoring with a game-high 20 points to go along with 5 rebounds as well. Madison Layden and Ava Learn were the other two Boilermakers to score in double-figures with 15 and 13 points respectively. With Jeanae Terry and Brooke Moore having off nights shooting the ball, Layden and Ellis, in particular, stepped up to carry the load offensively.
Although the team didn’t have the best performance from three-point range and had a few lapses throughout the game, they showed just how good they could be down the stretch. The 10 turnovers for Purdue compared to Rutgers’ 17 were also huge in securing this win.
Katie Gearlds has these girls playing well as the regular season comes to a close, and could be primed to make a little noise in the Big Ten Tournament. This win moves Purdue to 16-11 on the season and 7-9 during conference play this year. Their final two games will come against Northwestern and Wisconsin this week before the Big Ten Tournament begins on March 2nd in Indianapolis.
Next time out, Purdue will travel to Evanston looking for revenge after dropping their previous matchup with Northwestern in early February. That game will be Thursday at 8:00 p.m. and broadcast on B1G+.