Estero, FL -- After trailing the Louisville Cardinals for almost a full 40 minutes, the Purdue Boilermakers didn't look like they were going to be heading to the Gulf Coast Showcase finals ... until the last minute of the game. Purdue, led by junior guard Ashley Morrissette with 17 points, was able to pull off a 62-60 win over Louisville in a series of last-seconds, back-and-forth, lead-taking buckets.
"We just executed what we needed to," Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said. "It came down to our defense. That is our pride and joy. Though we didn't defend very well until the last minute."
Foul trouble in the first half for Purdue forced new combinations, putting three freshmen on the floor: guard Tiara Murphy, forward Dominique McBryde, and center Nora Keisler. Murphy recorded a career-high 6 points in the first 20 minutes, but Louisville's Myisha Hines-Allen led all scorers with 10 points in the half, helping the Cardinals to a 28-20 advantage.
"I thought it was really helter-skelter, having three players with two fouls each in the first half," Versyp said. "We haven't been put in that situation, so it was a growing experience for us and we stayed close, hanging right in there."
The Boilermakers came into the second half hot, cutting their deficit at one point to just three points, but ultimately trailing 42-38 at the end of the third period. With one minute left in the game, the tightly contested game went back and forth with one-point advantages.
Purdue took the lead 56-57 on a layup, before Louisville responded with a jumper to put the Cardinals back on top at 58-57. With 34.1 seconds left, the situation repeated itself, with the Boilermakers making another layup, and the Cardinals responding with another jumper. With Louisville up 60-59, Hines-Allen fouled Purdue's junior guard Bridget Perry, who drained two free throws, taking a 61-60 lead.
During Louisville's next possession, Purdue senior guard April Wilson was sent to the line, hitting one-of-two free throws, taking a 62-60 lead. With the clock winding down, a turnover by Louisville sophomore guard Arica Carter allowed Purdue to walk away with the win.
"I normally try to stay calm during those moments," Morrissette said. "But I can't lie I was pretty pumped up, excited that we won. Everyone was excited. I was just trying to actually hold it in until the buzzer went off."
The Boilermakers will play the Stanford Cardinal in the Gulf Coast Showcase finals tomorrow at 7:30 p.m.