In the second round of the Women’s NIT, Purdue’s season ended with a 77-62 defeat against Marquette.
Tonight was a disappointing end to the season for the Boilermakers, as they had aspirations of making a run in the WNIT. Last week’s win over Southern Illinois gave this team some momentum and confidence heading into the second round, but the Boilermakers just ran into a better team.
Marquette had just missed out on the NCAA Tournament, after going 21-10 during the regular season and 13-7 during conference play in the Big East. One could make the argument this was a tournament team, and Purdue struggled against a step up in competition during the postseason.
To make things tougher, Purdue was down one of their top all-around players in Madison Layden who is still dealing with a non-COVID related illness after missing the Southern Illinois game as well.
It was a tough go of it for Purdue offensively, especially in the second half. The Boilermakers shot 10-32 from the field, while Marquette shot 13-30 but were able to steal more possessions with offensive rebounds. Purdue was also only able to hit 4-16 three point attempts on the night, three of which came from Brooke Moore.
In what is likely to be her final collegiate game, Moore scored 20 points to lead the way for Purdue. Abbey Ellis and Rickie Woltman were the only two other Boilermakers to score in double-figures as well.
Defensively, Marquette’s go-to scorer Van Kleunen torched the Boilermakers all night and was the driving force behind the Golden Eagles offense. Van Kleunen dropped a game high 27 points on 10-17 shooting that left Purdue’s interior defenders without answers.
Plain and simple, Purdue got beat tonight. Some of the struggles from earlier in the year, particularly conference play, crept back to bite them in this one.
Regardless of the outcome tonight and the season as a whole, this program improved by 10 wins and ushered in a new era under Katie Gearlds. This was not supposed to be a year where Purdue was contending for a Big Ten title or make a deep NCAA Tournament run. The adjustments made throughout the season will have a greater impact down the road when Gearlds has more time under her belt at the Big Ten level and these players are with each other for more than just a few months during the season. Tonight was tough for Purdue, but things are looking up.