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Women’s NIT: Purdue 82, Southern Illinois 60.

Boilers are back in March!

Syndication: Journal-Courier Nikos Frazier / Journal & Courier / USA TODAY NETWORK

Purdue women’s basketball started their postseason in dominant fashion, routing Southern Illinois 82-60 for a win in the first round of the WNIT.

Today’s game marked the Boilermaker’s first postseason appearance (Big Ten Tournament excluding), since the 2018 season. That year, the Boilermakers fell in the second round of the WNIT. Now, Katie Gearlds has the opportunity to put a stamp on her first season as the head coach in West Lafayette.

With Madison Layden out with a non-COVID related illness, Purdue needed the supporting cast to step up to avoid a tough loss as home. The Boilermakers got just that from basically everyone that touched the floor tonight. As a team, they shot an impressive 57% from the field while pushing the pace to completely overwhelm the Salukis.

Tonight’s showing was Katie Gearlds’ offense working to perfection, putting the defense on their heels, getting out in transition and forcing mistakes which led to open looks. Even when the game got slowed down, Purdue still scored the rock at will. This is what got Gearlds several National Championships at Marian University prior to taking over to Purdue as well.

Senior Brooke Moore led the way for the Boilermakers with a game-high 27 points, as she was one of five to score 9+ points for Purdue. Joining her was Jeanae Terry, Abbey Ellis, Ava Learn, and Rokia Doumbia.

Doumbia scored 13 points, after earning the start with Madison Layden missing the game. She offered a huge spark for Purdue with her length, defense and scoring ability today. Coming into tonight, she had played in just 11 games and was averaging 3.1 points per game, but has produced in the short spurts she’d played over the last two seasons.

Purdue will now look to build on their first round victory against the winner of Ball State and Marquette which is currently going on at the time of this writing. If you remember correctly, former Purdue guard Karissa McLaughlin transferred to Marquette following last season. On the flip side, they could face off against an in-state foe in Ball State as well. The date/time of that game is still undetermined from the WNIT website, but Saturday looks most likely.

This was a big step in the right direction, but Purdue still has plenty of work to do for a deep run in the Women’s NIT bracket this month.