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Purdue loses heartbreaker to Boston College

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The Lady Boilers fell just short of beating the Boston College Eagles last evening in Mackey, as BC hit the game winning 3-pointer with 7 seconds left in regulation.

Photo provided by Pinola Photography
Photo provided by Pinola Photography

We knew Boston College would be a touch matchup.  They have all 5 starters returning from last season and added a college ready true freshman in 6-4 post player Mariella Fasoula.  Who absolutely schooled all three of our 5 position players in this game.  Playing in only her 7th college game, it was Fasoula who took over the game for large stretches, finishing with 23 points on 11-15 shooting, along with 9 rebounds and two blocks.  Some of her shots that went in looked like schoolyard fugly ugly scoop shots.  However, Purdue failed to bring another defender in to stop these scoop shots where she had brought the ball down to where even shorter players could have blocked them.  April Wilson did manage to block one of Fasoula's shots in the second half, which from a player 9 inches shorter was simply a spectacular play, one of the best of this season.  Speaking of spectacular play, April Wilson once again proved that she is a team leader on a mission and really gave Boston College fits throughout the entire game.  At this point in the season, Wilson is clearly the star player of the entire team.

Not that she didn't have any help.  Most of that came from Andreona Keys and Bridget Perry.  Keys did a marvelous job of sticking to Kelly Hughes like glue, holding BC's best shooter to only 9 points, with some switching and double team help.  Keys really played hard and smart, contributing 12 points, 8 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.  Perry also played hard and smart, providing 13 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and some good pressure defense.  Torrie Thornton hit a couple of key jumpers and also had 3 rebounds, a block, and a steal.  The rest of the team, however, failed to produce much of anything offensively and had some lapses on the defensive side of the ball.  BC no doubt scouted Purdue from the Gulf Coast Showcase and came in determined to stop Ashley Morrissette from being able to shoot with any daylight at all.  Her teammates should have set her up with better screens, but BC did an admirable job of switching on her.  This left it up to Keys, Perry, and Wilson to pick up the slack.  Which they did starting in the 2nd quarter and throughout the 2nd half.  But it ended up too little, too late.  We were lucky to only be down by 5 points at halftime.

Both teams started the game determined to stop the other team from draining 3 pointers.  BC succeeded, holding Purdue to 0-0 on 3 point attempts in the first half.  It wasn't much better in the second half, although Wilson did drain a timely 3 while as a team only four 3 pointers were even attempted.  Purdue did limit BC to 2 of 5 from distance in the first half.  However, Purdue's weakness at the 5 position, along with dismal overall shooting in the first half, was what cost us the win.  The first half was pretty much a disaster for the Boilers.  By halftime, Fasoula had 12 points and BC had 13 assists to 2 for Purdue.  Also, Purdue's 33% shooting for the entire first half is not going to win many games.

In spite of these problems, Purdue ratcheted up the defense in the second half.  The Boilers threw everything they had at Fasoula, but she continued to have her way around the basket for stretches at a time.  Switching 2-1-2 zones with man-to-man defenses threw off BC in the second half.  Purdue clawed back into the game and got barely in the lead with some great turnovers and rebounds leading to runouts and layups or drawing fouls under the basket.  I don't know what more Wilson could have done in this game, other than dunk or something.  If only she could have had the luxury of feeding the post in the half court offense, things would have turned out differently.  She only had 1 assist, but did pretty much everything else.  Also, on numerous occasions in the half court, Wilson got the ball back to the top of the key to settle the team down and reset the offense.  Being a senior, she has had a lot of time to develop this kind of play which is a great asset.  In the past few years, Purdue in those situations tended to just turn the ball over or throw up some shots without a prayer.  Actually, due to some heady defense, mostly in the 2nd half, Purdue won the overall turnover battle 12-17.  However we lost big time on assists, with Purdue having only 8 to 22 for BC.  It was only the Herculean efforts of Wilson, Perry, and Keys, that prevented this game from being a blowout loss.

To their credit, Boston College played a smart and disciplined game on both sides of the ball.  They have a lot of team experience which means some of the same players seemed to be in each others' heads for stretches at a time.  With great scoring ability along with tenacious defense they are going to win a lot of games this year.  It is the best BC team I have seen in a long time.  And what a clutch 3 pointer from senior Nicole Boudreau with 7 seconds left.  She misses that, and Purdue would have probably won.  Unfortunately, Purdue couldn't get a shot off in the final 7 seconds, causing great consternation to April Wilson.  But honestly, Purdue should have had the game salted away by then.

However, this game confirmed some of the fears we have had about this season, namely the lack of solid play at the 5 position.  If we don't get our act together there, it will translate into a lot of losses in the conference schedule.  Yes, Nora Keisler is developing well, but she cannot do it alone.  This game was lost at the 5 position.  Period.  Another thing is, I believe that Dominique McBryde should be given the green light to shoot more.  She has been described as a forward with the ability to stretch defenses.  Then now is the time to give her the go ahead to put up some jumpers.  BC left her wide open the entire time she was in the game.  This kind of reminded me of when Dee Dee Williams would be left wide open on a regular basis, as she was in mostly for defense and ball control.  However at times she had to just put it up there, even if shooting was not her forte.  Yes her percentages weren't great, but at least it would limit the situation where the other team can focus their defense completely on the other 4 players, making it look like we are playing 4 on 5 with the ball.

In order to make it back the the NCAA tournament, more players besides Perry, Keys, and Wilson are going to have to step it up.  Morrissette has been stepping it up for most of this young season, but just had a bad night last night..  Also we are going to need to be more consistent defensively.  Yes our defense was very good in the second half, except some continued problems under the basket, but we need defensive pressure the entire game, not just in stretches.  Our next game is against Dayton, who is probably overall a better team than Boston College.  The Flyers have built a really great team there, and Purdue is going to need more of a complete game in order to win that one.