It was Senior Day on Sunday for April Wilson, Torrie Thornton, and Hayden Hamby. For sure an emotional game for them. Thankfully, it was a resounding win over a disinterested Wisconsin team by 20 points.
After the McBryde show on Thursday evening, this was the Ashley Morrissette show, as she finished with a career high 28 points and 4 steals. April Wilson was the only other Boiler in double figures with 11. Most of the other players pitched in for a comfortable win. Purdue shot at 47% overall, but made 9 of 15 from downtown. Morrissette led the way making 5 of 8 from three point range. The Boilers also had 9 steals leading to 14 total turnovers leading to 20 points off of turnovers. Wilson finished the game in an exclusive career club becoming only the fifth Purdue player in women's basketball history with over 1000 points, 500 assists, and 200 steals.
It was a shoot-fest in the first quarter, as it ended with Purdue with a slight lead 26-24. After that, Wisconsin only made 10 field goals on 44 attempts as the Boiler defense put the clamps on. Using mostly a swarming zone defense, which looked like a 1-2-2, while switching in and out of man-to-man a few times, the Badgers looked like they simply did not know how to handle it. Their sharpshooters Nicole Baumann and Dakota White both had abysmal games shooting the ball, and they didn't get a lot of help either. Michala Johnson led the way for the Badgers with 18 points, while Avyanna Young chipped in with 10.
This means that Purdue has finished the regular season at 19-10, with a conference record of 10-8, good for sixth place. After the non-conference season, we hoped for a bit higher placement, but finishing in the top half of the league beat the heck out of the last place finish last year. Also, the Big Ten really didn't have any truly bad teams this year, with IU finishing a surprising 4th place. Yes you read that right. The cream of the league are Maryland, Ohio State, and Michigan State, but all three finished with at least a few cracks in their armor. That being said, it would be a monumental task for any other team to best them and take the Big Ten Tournament next week. Well, stranger things have happened, and it's a blank slate come tournament time. Purdue has won this tournament more than any other B1G team and it's not even close. So you can expect our Boilers to come into Banker's Life Fieldhouse with a confident attitude. Of course the shots still have to fall, but they have in the past 3 games, which gives our team some real momentum.
Taking a look at the bracket, Purdue will play on Thursday night against the winner of the Penn State - Illinois game. This is no pushover either way, although we would probably rather play Illinois. Penn State has shown more improvement during the conference season. Assuming we can win that game, it will set up a Friday night battle against the surging Michigan State Spartans. That is a winnable game, but Purdue would need to really step it up on offense especially. The Spartans are deep with a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. However, Purdue has pulled many upsets in this tournament in the past, so anything is possible. If our team can make it to the semi-finals, I'll cover that in another post. If the Lady Boilers win their Thursday night match-up, it will mean a 20 win season and a probable spot in the NCAA tournament. If the Boilers bow out in their first game, it will be a roll of the dice. Two wins in the conference tournament would assure a place in the NCAA's but let's not get ahead of ourselves just yet.
For now, we can look back on a tough conference season, and wish there would have been at least a couple more wins that got away. However, sitting at 19 wins and a first round bye in the B1G Tournament, we'll have to take that. This team has made great strides this season, and the future looks bright with some very young talent, with Dominique McBryde looking like a bona fide star in the making. Other freshmen and sophomores are showing steady improvement as well, and Perry and Morrissette will be senior leaders next season. However, there is more to be done this season so we won't dwell on next season for now, just celebrate a good winning season and look forward to some post season success.
Once again, congratulations to our Seniors for all of their contributions and may the season extend to at least two or more games.