In a match-up between teams at the bottom of the Big Ten rankings Purdue (10-13, 3-9) came out on the losing side. Penn State topped Purdue 54-50. The Boilermakers had their worst shooting performance of the season shooting only 29% from the field.
To start the game Purdue held Penn State scoreless over the first five minutes of the game. The Boilers struggled to capitalize on it though and were only up 6-0 when Penn State finally scored. Penn State and Purdue traded baskets then Ashley Morrissette struck with a trey to increase Purdue's lead to seven, 11-4. The Boilers kept a safe margin till the last few minutes of the first half. Over the last 3:41 Penn State outscored Purdue 8-4; Purdue led 20-17 at the break.
What it came down to in the second half was who would make the last run. Unfortunately for Purdue it was not them. At the start of the second half Purdue stretched their lead back to seven only to watch it shrink and disappear. Penn State went on a 12-2 run to take the lead. Purdue answered with a 10-0 run to go back up seven. The Nittany Lions matched that effort and went up three. Penn State's lead didn't last long. After trading baskets April Wilson tied the game up with a three. A Liza Clemons basket gave Purdue their last lead of the day. Lindsey Spann went down and hit a three for Penn State to put them ahead for good, 47-46. Whitney Bays had a chance to get the lead back at the free-throw line but only hit one of two. Purdue struggled over the last 2:21 of the game helping Penn State to a win. The Boilers went 2-4 from the line and 1-5 from the field in addition to giving up three offensive rebounds.
Liza Clemons was the only Boiler to reach double figures. She finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. Whitney Bays had seven points to go with 12 rebounds. Andreona Keys and April Wilson both had nine points. Bridget Perry scored six points and pulled down eight rebounds in her return to the hardwood.
Purdue lost despite committing seven less turnovers than Penn State. Subpar shooting from all areas of the floor doomed them (29% FG, 55% FT, and 16.7% 3PT). Penn State's length and size forced Purdue to shoot from outside, where they have struggled all season long. On Sunday they shot 3-18.
Next Purdue will take on Northwestern (17-6, 7-5) at home. The Wildcats have yet to really breakthrough despite having the pieces in place. They lost to Penn State then turned around and almost beat Iowa in a shoot-out, 102-99 (The two teams set a NCAA record making 32 3-pointers in a game. The teams combined to shoot 69.6% from three-point range. Purdue can only dream of shooting that well from the field). Northwestern has only beaten one team this season from the top half of the conference. Nia Coffey is the Cats sophomore, do-everything forward. Coffey averages 15.4 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.8 bpg, and 1.8 spg. Maggie Lyon averages 14.4 ppg. Christen Inman also reaches double figures regularly, 11.4 ppg, while shooting 52% from the field. Point guard Ashley Deary averages 9.6 ppg and 5.1 apg.
Maryland remains unblemished in conference play. They are trailed by Iowa who has two losses. Rutgers is in third place followed by Ohio State. Minnesota, Nebraska, and Northwestern are all tied for 5th at 7-5. Michigan is in 8th with a 6-6 record. Wisconsin, 4-8, sits at 9th. Purdue is tied with Indiana and Illinois for 10th at 3-9. Michigan State and Penn State round at the conference at 3-10.
Ranked Big Ten teams are as follows; No. 5 Maryland, No. 14 Iowa, No. 18 Rutgers, and No. 22 Nebraska.