Coach Versyp has been searching for that combination of players to get it done this season, with 4 good freshmen being worked in to the rotation. She seems to have settled on a good set of starters: Morrissette, Oden, Keys, Perry, and McBryde. Of course it can only help when Ashley Morrissette plays the game of her life. She was simply outstanding in scoring 31 points on 12 of 17 shooting, while adding a rebound, 4 assists, and 3 steals. The Pittsburgh coach had warned her team to watch out for Morrissette, but she was just too into a zone to be shut down. This is the first time a Purdue player has scored at least 30 points in a game since Courtney Moses accomplished it on November 17, 2013. All the while Morrissette ran the point for most of the game and directed the overall offensive effort. She scored 17 of those 31 points in the third quarter, as Purdue totaled 29 points in that quarter to take a decent lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Purdue defense also stepped up, holding Pittsburgh to zero points in over 6.5 minutes in the decisive 4th quarter. The defense gave the Panthers problems all game long, switching between a 3-2 zone and man to man scheme. Pittsburgh had some nice three pointers, but underwhelmed in the post even with perhaps their best player, 6-4 center Brandi Harvey-Carr getting a double double for the game. Purdue rotated players on her, and also employed some effective trapping which kept the Panthers off kilter for periods of the game. Also, several of the normal top scorers for Pittsburgh never could get on track.
It was no blow out, that is for sure. Both teams traded turnovers as Purdue committed 15 to Pittsburgh's 16. Until the long scoring drought by the Panthers in the 4th quarter, it was a very close back and forth affair. There were a lot of ties and lead changes. The score was tied 55-55 in the 4th, when Purdue asserted itself and took control of the game leading to the final outcome. Andreona Keys made 3 important baskets as Purdue maintained their lead out down the stretch. Pitt ended up having to foul Morrissette in the last 60 seconds and she went 2 of 4 as the defense held up.
Three other players besides Morrissette filled out the stat line and flirted with double doubles, with Perry scoring 8 points and grabbing 9 rebounds, McBryde getting 8 points and 8 rebounds, and Keys the closest with 10 points and 9 rebounds. Definitely the three captains led the way along with McBryde, but others contributed in shorter spurts, such as Tiara Murphy and Ae'Rianna Harris. Dominique Oden couldn't find the basket for most of the game, but she also got some valuable experience.
After playing Stanford close in Cancun, this road win against a formerly undefeated Pitt Panther team bodes well for the team. Shooting is coming around as well as overall defense. Now comes a series of home games with one away game at Ball State thrown in the mix, for the rest of the non-conference season. Perhaps this team has turned a corner, with shooting and effort having come a long ways since the sting of the early losses. Now is the time to start building up more momentum leading into the grind of the B1G conference schedule.