Purdue still has a long way to go before they get back to the historical place we all think about Purdue basketball. Before they get to the place where they were when now head coach Katie Gearlds was just player Katie Gearlds. I don’t want to sugar coat it but I don’t want to be overly harsh either. When Gearlds was announced as the head coach it was clear that a near complete rebuild was necessary. Not necessarily of the roster, there was talent on the roster, but in the locker room, in the culture, and in the national perception. Purdue had fallen hard in all those ways and it would take time to turn all those around.
Purdue came into tonight’s game at Michigan with a record of 11-4. It was a lot better than recent years but Purdue is still missing the big time win, the win over a ranked opponent, the statement win. They hoped to get that tonight as the Wolverines came to town ranked #17. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Purdue went down early in the first quarter as Michigan surged to a 21-10 lead. Purdue closed the quarter on an 8-2 but still went into the break down by five.
Purdue got within 31-30 in the with just over 2:30 to play on a great assist from Jeanae Terry to Jayla Smith. At the half Purdue had cut the five point first quarter deficit to four. Good, but not great. The third quarter could be the deciding quarter as the teams headed to the locker room.
Unfortunately for Purdue it was the deciding factor but not in their favor. Purdue could muster just nine points in the third quarter, less than a point a minute, to go against the 21 points that Michigan put up. The Michigan lead grew from just four all the way to 16. After that the wind had gone out of Purdue’s sails and the fourth quarter saw Michigan pad their lead even more with Purdue ultimately being outscored by five in the fourth.
Purdue had four players score in double figures led by Madison Layden with 16. Purdue shot the ball well as a team going 44% from the floor, 38.9% from three, and 80% from the free throw line. Unfortunately, Purdue just didn’t have the firepower to keep up with the 17th ranked Wolverines. With the loss Purdue falls to 11-5 (2-4) and will next be in action on Saturday at Northwestern.