Well, when it rains it pours. Not the greatest weekend of watching college basketball if you are a Purdue fan as we watched both teams take a loss. Sunday the Women’s team headed to Minnesota for their final regular game of the season and lost 77-69. A devastating blow for the Boilers as they try and work themselves into the NCAA tournament and had beat the Gophers by 19 a month ago.
Purdue trailed by 11 heading into the half and looked dead in the water. The Boilers outscored Minnesota 25-11 in the third and tied the game up at 57 early in the fourth quarter. Petree drove the lane to take the lead and Minnesota was called for a foul. Minnesota coach Lindsay Whalen went to the refs for a review. In a very debatable call, the refs reversed the foul on Minnesota and called an intentional foul on Petree for bringing her elbow up. Minnesota hit both free throws and then a 3 to take the lead back to 5 and Purdue was never able to get their momentum back.
It’s hard to come back from a big deficit and even harder on the road but Purdue showed resilience clawing their way back into this one. Lasha Petree is getting hot again at the right time knocking off 26 points and grabbing 6 rebounds. Maddie Layden chipped in another ten points. Purdue also shot 94% from the line and has been extremely consistent at the charity stripe this season. It didn’t win them the game yesterday but that will pay off in close games to come.
Purdue was already on the bubble and this loss to a team at the bottom of the conference will do them no favors with the committee. These are times you look back and wish you could get that 3 point loss to #7 Maryland and 1 point loss to #23 Florida State back. The Boilers are going to need to steal some wins in the Big Ten Tournament that starts this week.
Purdue plays Wisconsin on Thursday, a team they beat in the beginning of January 73-61. That will be absolute must win and one they can get. Things get a little hairy after that, the Boilers will most likely face a Caitlyn Clark led Iowa team in the second round. Purdue lost to the Hawkeyes in Iowa City by 15 in their last meetup. A second round win will really help their chances but it’ll be anything but easy as #6 Iowa just showcased their abilities by knocking off #2 Indiana at home.
Petree will continue to get hers but Purdue is going to need some consistent scoring from everyone else as we kick off the post-season. Ellis has proved she can be a valuable asset on the offensive side and Terry will need to continue facilitating the offense and being the court leader. Hardin and Smith need to make sure they are creating their shots as both can shoot the ball well and the Boilers play best when they are sharing the ball.
It’s not going to be easy and good things rarely are. But the Boilers have beat ranked opponents Illinois and Ohio State this season and have proven they can hang with top contenders. Can Purdue shock some teams in the BTT? It all starts Thursday against Wisconsin in Minneapolis, win or go home.