The Lady Boilers remained undefeated this season with a thrilling 62-60 upset of the Louisville Cardinals last evening.
After Purdue came out to a very quick 4-0 lead, Louisville took charge and led for most of the game. However, they did not look like the Louisville we had been accustomed to seeing back in the days of the Shoni and Jude Shimmel show. While they have a lot of raw, young talent, they had very poor ball movement and took a lot of bad shots.
First let me say that the officiating in this game was horrendous. Really no rhyme nor reason to what was called. They were definitely whistle happy and it was a shame that it affected the game so much. But folks that is a reality of women's basketball. The officiating has been subpar for a very long time, although some games are worse than others. The Purdue bench was hit with 2 technicals, which is not a common sight. They could have cost us the game with Louisville draining all 4 free throws. I have mixed feelings about that. On the one hand I was yelling bad words to the refs myself at my streaming computer. However, our coaches just need to suck it up and stick to plays and strategies.
For example, Wilson and Perry each had 2 fouls not long after the game started. Hamby was also hit with 2 early fouls. I won't say for sure some of them were not legitimate fouls, but that sure affected the first half in a big way. We simply need Wilson and Perry on the floor for most of the minutes if this team is to really make a mark this season. Now that I got that out of my system, while the Cardinals led for most of the game, including going into halftime, our Boilers made a fabulous comeback in the second half. They scored more points in the 4th quarter than in the entire first half.
Ashley Morrissette really shined in this game, especially with April Wilson sitting in foul trouble. Morrissette led all scorers with 17 points, but also did a fine job running the point and filled out the stat sheet with 5 rebounds, 3 assists, a block and a steal. Her composure steadied the team. The real story of the game, however, was 14 points from Bridget Perry in the 4th quarter. The Cardinals had no answer for her, and she drained all her free throws, including the final go ahead points. Wilson sealed the deal with one more free throw for the close win. The lead changed hands several times in the last minute. Other players stepped up as well. Freshman Tiara Murphy calmly drained back to back threes which kept us in the game in the second quarter. Nora Keisler made some great plays, grabbed some rebounds, and created problems for the Cardinals, which surprised me. I thought Louisville would have a more dominant post presence. Keisler finished with 6 points and 7 rebounds. She also altered some shots. Dominique McBryde also put in a solid game, with 4 points, 5 rebounds, and an awesome blocked shot. I'm sure this pair of freshmen surprised Louisville too as they had probably not scouted either of them. The commentators, partial to Louisville, mentioned several times that it looked like their coaching staff failed to scout the Boilers at all. We have been wondering who would fill the shoes of Bays and Clemons, and these two freshmen are improving and contributing to the group effort to replace the graduates.
Definitely this is a really good confidence building win. Yes the turnovers were bad, and in fact most of the first half was bad. But the players really came together as a team, ratcheting up the defense even more in the second half, draining some clutch free throws, pushing the pace, hitting over 50% of their shots, and they really put out the effort. That must have been a motivating speech by Coach V at halftime. Maybe Louisville lacks the level of experience of our Boiler team, but they certainly have good athletes. I had mentioned in my preview that hopefully Louisville would overestimate Purdue, and that seemed to be the case.
Now we move on to play Stanford in the championship game of the tournament. Probably not a lot of people expected us to be there, including myself. But here we are. I keep saying look out for the competition, and we weathered those games, but Stanford awaits this evening. Has Stanford ever had a bad team? Granted they haven't won the national championship in a long time. But they really recruit well and are well coached. This will definitely be an even bigger challenge than Louisville. Stanford is not having a down year, at least so far. Their height, athleticism, and sharpshooting will give us a monumental challenge. As for predictions at the GCS, I am 0 for 2, picking two losses which ended up being two wins. So being superstitious and all, why not predict another loss in the third straight game in three days? If we win this game, or even play Stanford close, expect Purdue to start getting some votes in the polls. But not so fast, my friend, as Corso says. We need to up our game to an even higher level against a quality team like the Cardinal. I only briefly scouted their roster and record, and it convinced me that this would truly be a milestone in our program if we are able to pull the upset.
Prediction: Stanford 63 -Purdue 54.