A furious fourth quarter comeback came up just short for Purdue (14-4, 5-2) as they failed to score on their last possession falling 62-61 to Nebraska. All game the Boilers had a terrible time putting the ball in the basket and could not take full advantage of Nebraska's carelessness with basketball or their own offensive opportunities. Purdue finally got locked in the fourth quarter, but it was too little too late after digging a big hole earlier in the game.
It was a dreadful shooting night for Purdue and it all began in first quarter. Purdue's early lead disappeared as Purdue went 0-for-11 and Nebraska went ahead. Purdue finally found the bottom of the basket and traded baskets with Nebraska for a stretch. Rachel Theriot scored six of her eight in the period putting the Huskers in front. At the end of the quarter Purdue was down 15-12. Nebraska shot 64%.
The teams traded runs in the second quarter, but Purdue had even more trouble finding the bottom of the net in the second quarter as Nebraska extended their lead. Nebraska went up 25-12 with a 10-0 run. During the run Purdue turned the ball over four times and missed on seven attempts. Purdue was unfocused on offense and defense; committing silly turnovers, taking ill-advised shots, and letting Nebraska score easy baskets. Eventually Purdue broke out of their funk albeit only momentarily. April Wilson ended the drought for Purdue with a steal and a layup to jump start a 7-0 run. Wilson contributed six of the seven to help Purdue cut into the lead. The Boilers turned the ball over three more times before the half ended. At the end of the half Purdue was down 30-21.
Things would get worse before they got better; Purdue was outshot 70-29% in the third quarter. Nebraska even turned the ball over three more times than Purdue but the Husker lead only grew in the third quarter. Purdue drew within six three different times; Bridget Perry opened the period with a triple, April Wilson outhustled Theriot for a steal and layup halfway through the period, and Dominique McBryde's layup with 3:39 left made it a two possession game. Each time Nebraska answered. The Huskers scored the last two baskets of the half to go up 48-36.
A totally different Purdue team came onto the floor in the fourth quarter. Purdue turned Nebraska over on their first three possessions pouring in seven points, making it a five point game with 8:42 left. After two Nebraska free throws Purdue got a trey from Bridget Perry and then forced the Huskers into a shot clock violation. On the next possession Andreonna Keys' layup drew Purdue within two, 50-48. Nebraska stretched their lead back to six then Bree Horrocks hit a jumper to cut the lead to four. Freshman Jessica Shepard came up big for the Huskers taking advantage of some bad foul calls scoring four points on a single possession. Purdue answered with seven point run; a three point play from Dominique McBryde, two free throws from Perry, and a Wilson jumper than cut the margin to one. The Boilers sent Nebraska to the line twice getting down 62-57 with 1:49 left. Wilson hit another jumper and McBryde hit a layup to draw Purdue within one with 40 seconds left. Purdue applied the pressure and Shepard was unable to haul in an entry pass and Purdue got the ball back. With a timeout Purdue advanced the ball to the front court and set up for the last shot with 12.7 on the clock. Unfortunately Purdue couldn't execute their play and never got a shot up falling, 62-61.
Nebraska shot 57% to Purdue's 37%. Nebraska committed 27 turnovers which Purdue turned into 25 points. Purdue was outrebounded 35-31, but did grab 17 offensive rebounds.
Jessica Shepard led the Huskers with 22 points. Natalie Romeo added 14. Rachel Theriot scored eight points and dished 12 assists. Rachel Blackburn pulled down eight rebounds and blocked three shots.
On the night she scored her 1000th point April Wilson contributed 24 points, 10-16 shooting, four rebounds, five assists, and five steals. Bridget Perry added 13 points, six rebounds, two assists, three blocked shots, and two steals. Dominique McBryde recorded 12 points and five blocked shots. Torrie Thornton grabbed six rebounds.
Purdue was missing contributions from Andreonna Keys and Ashley Morrissette. Keys was 2-for-6 from the field finishing with five points. Morrissette had a forgettable performance going 0-for-11, no points, three assists and three turnovers. The emergence of McBryde has certainly helped Purdue, but they cannot afford for Keys and Morrissette to be non-factors like they were tonight.
As great as it was to watch Purdue compete in the 4th quarter it was frustrating that the effort was not there all night. Purdue failed to take advantage of multiple opportunities and couldn't do enough to disrupt Nebraska's shooting earlier in the game.
Next Purdue faces Iowa on Sunday.