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Women's Basketball takes 2 of 3 at the Cancun Challenge

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Definite improvement and a competitive game against #11 Stanford

The Purdue women's basketball team played three games in three days over Thanksgiving weekend down in Cancun, Mexico.  Watching the games was a challenge as video only streaming was provided by Youtube with no audio.  The first game against Wichita State was during our Thanksgiving meal, so I only watched the 4th quarter of that one.  It wasn't much of a game, as the Shockers didn't provide a lot of competition.  Even so, it was a good game for the Boilers to get some of their shooting touch back after a rough start to the season, winning the contest 86-49.

The Boilers shot almost 52% from the field, and held Wichita State to only 4 points in the fourth quarter.  Dominique Oden had quite a game, scoring a team leading 23 points including 4 of 6 from downtown.  It was good to see some 3 pointers start to go in.  Three other players were also in double figures, with Perry, Keys, and McBryde tabbing 13, 13, and 11 points respectively.  McBryde also grabbed 9 rebounds, one away from achieving a double double.  The Boilers came out on a mission and even though the Shockers were over-matched, it was good to see shots going in and the team showing consistent effort.

In the second game on Friday, Purdue took down Northeastern 79-54.  Another fine shooting performance took place, but some good shooting from Northeastern kept the game from being a total blowout. Ashley Morrissette had an excellent floor game with her first double double, with 16 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 3 steals and a blocked shot.  Dominique Oden and Bridget Perry also scored in double figures with 13 and 14 points.

One thing that began to become apparent in this game, which carried over into the Stanford game, was that the team plays better with Morrissette primarily running the point.  Coach V has been trying to get the team to operate at a higher level with Tiara Murphy at the point and Morrissette at her natural 2 guard position.  However, things go better with Morrissette at the 1 guard and freshman scoring sensation Oden at the 2 guard position.  Coaches may have their preconceived ideas but in-game play will bear out whether those ideas pan out or not.  Last season, it was not an issue as April Wilson was a natural at point guard and ran the team all season long.  This season it is looking like it is Morrissette's team to lead, and primarily from the point guard position as well.  Murphy has a good handle on the ball, but so far seems to dribble around a lot and not as naturally set up plays.  Progress may come with more experience, but for now the trend is fairly repeatable.

If there can be something like a good loss, perhaps the Stanford game may qualify.  Purdue played Stanford in a back and forth duel for most of the game, with the Boilers having a lead a fair amount of the time.  Particularly impressive was the defense, which often times stymied the Stanford offense into uncomfortable situations.  Unfortunately, the post play of Erica McCall and excellent shooting all game from Brittany McPhee and Karlie Samuelson (who shot 6 for 8 from three) prevailed, and Stanford canned their free throws late to seal the game.  That being said, it has to be encouraging that our Boilers can hang with a near top ten team for 4 quarters.  While the final score was 78-69, the final margin was due to the Cardinal hitting all of their free throws down the stretch.  That would have not been the case if Purdue had not had a cold shooting stretch in the 4th quarter along with some very untimely turnovers.  Yes, I know those are two bugaboos this season so far, but despite that relapse, Purdue gave Stanford all they could handle.  While an effective 2-3 zone really disrupted the flow of the Stanford offense, with some man to man thrown in the mix, the Cardinal eventually overcame the zone with some excellent outside shooting.

Once again, Ashley Morrissette led the way with 23 points and 8 rebounds, also drawing a lot of fouls and making 10 of 11 free throws.  She also made some nifty breakaway layups.  She displayed great leadership skills in running the show.  Bridget Perry had yet another fine game, filling the stat sheet with 16 points, 7 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block and 2 steals.  Morrissette and Perry were both voted to the all tournament team.  Dominique Oden also added 11 points in the contest.

While it would have been great to get the upset over Stanford, it was an encouraging 3 game tournament overall.  First of all, the team effort was there.  For whatever the reason the team came out flat in the first 4 games, but the players really stepped up their effort.  Part of it is just working young players into the rotation and finding combinations in a lineup that will get the job done.  However, definite progress on outside shooting and overall defense was apparent.  It is looking like this team got a serious wake up call with a 1-3 start to the season.  Hopefully, the progress made in this tournament will carry over into the rest of the season.  Another tough challenge awaits as the team will play at Pittsburgh in the Big Ten/ACC challenge next week.  So the team will have played most of their early games on the road, albeit in two neutral site tournaments.  After that it will be good to get back to Mackey for a stretch.