Things were looking bleak just a few weeks ago when Purdue had lost 3 of a 4 game stretch; including a home loss to Nebraska. The Boilers bounced back with a convincing win over Minnesota in Mackey but the schedule ahead was daunting. The next three foes were all ranked… 2 of the 3 were on the road.
Purdue was going to need to do some soul searching if they wanted a chance to get back in the top half of the Big Ten and salvage a season that was a historic start. And they did just that. After going on road and shutting down Illinois, the Boilers turned around and went into Buckeye territory and stunned the #2 team with a 73-65 upset. Not only was this Coach Gerald’s biggest win since taking over as head coach, this was the first win over a top 5 opponent on the road in program history.
Purdue took control from the start; despite only shooting a little of 33% from three for the season, the Boilers hit 7/8 from deep and took a commanding 41-29 lead at halftime. Water found its level and the Buckeyes came surging back late in the fourth tying the game at 58 with 4:28 left to play. Layden hit a jumper, Purdue forced a turnover and Layden hit another big 3 taking the Boiler lead to 5. Purdues defense locked down and got the ball back resulting in another Ellis basket taking the lead to 7. Purdues defense and offense had an answer every time OSU tried to take control of the game. Ellis hit some clutch free throws down the stretch to put the Boilers out of reach and seal the win.
Much like Illinois, Purdue made Ohio State look out of sorts on the offensive end. Dynamic leading scorer Taylor Mikesell was held scoreless in the first half. Freshman guard Taylor Thierry got hers scoring 18 points and grabbing 7 rebounds but despite her good efforts it wouldn’t be enough to overcome the Boilers hot shooting.
I’ve talked a lot about Abbey Ellis as of late, and for good reason. The 5th year Australia Native has been electric for the Boilers. In 30 minutes of play Ellis had the game high 26 points and 2 rebounds; including some game clinching free throws to end the game. Ellis has been phenomenal from the line and closing out games; she currently ranks 11th shooting 89.7% from the charity stripe. She also went 5/8 from beyond the arc.
Cassidy Hardin added in 15 points, 6 rebounds and 3 assists and Caitlyn Harper took care of the ball inside scoring 12 points and 2 rebounds. Maddie Layden chipped in 10 points and 7 rebounds with her most prominent 3 coming at the end of the game when OSU had surged back to silence the crowd.
Jeanae Terry continues to be a leader on and off the court. The Illinois native does so much for the offense to keep it running effectively while also being a defensive problem for opponents. Currently 7th in the nations in assists, Terry held up her end of the bargain having 8 assists, 7 rebounds and 8 points for the game.
The 3 game stretch isn’t over as Purdue takes on #6 Indiana next. IU heads to Mackey Sunday afternoon for another midday matchup. Rivalry aside this will be another tough game for the Boilers. Purdue has worked themselves into the top half of the conference and a win Sunday could give them a little breathing room moving forward. Tip-off is set for 2pm.