Indianapolis, Indiana -- Indiana fans were excited for a No.4 seed in the conference tournament paired with a two-game bye. Purdue fans were ecstatic for a five-game conference win streak. Both teams were ready for another rival match-up, in neutral territory, and a chance at semifinal action.
It was the No.5 Boilermakers that stayed alive through day three of the Big Ten Tournament as they took down the No.4 Hoosiers, 66-60.
The big three had Indiana on target for their next big win with a steady defensive effort, small turnover numbers, a 50% shooting percentage, and momentum. Tyra Buss had four first-half triples as part of her 14 first-half points; Amanda Cahill chipped in with 10 points, four assists, along with Alexis Gassion’s four assists and five boards.
Indiana led by 17 in the beginning minutes of the third quarter, but it seemed as if the same IU offense didn’t return to play in the second half. Purdue saw the cracks in their game plan and sealed them up at the half by switching up their defensive strategy.
The Boilermaker’s Ashley Morrisette said, “Coach came during halftime and she gave us a choice: Go home or come out and win or come out have some pride on defense. Purdue is known for defense. In that first half, we had very little. So I think that's a big reason everybody responded.”
Coach Versyp said she switched to a 1 through 4 to take off Indiana’s edge, and it worked.
The Hoosiers went scoreless for seven minutes and missed 11 straight field goals, which allowed Purdue to attack in that third quarter.
However, Indiana couldn’t stop the bleeding it didn’t get much better in the fourth as their first offensive possession was a turnover. Purdue’s Andreona Keys scored with a 1:29 and gave the Boilermakers a 56-55 lead, which was the team’s first since 1:01 into the first quarter.
The Boilermakers never trailed again after Keys’ basket. They outscored Indiana 42-21 in the final two periods. The Hoosier’s 11 turnovers in the second half helped Purdue capitalize on Indiana’s offensive struggle.
“I think we just were careless with the ball in the second half, especially the start of the third quarter. We just didn't come out with the energy we had in the first half,” said Indiana’s Buss.
Looking forward, the Hoosiers’ NCAA tourney fate is in the committee’s hands now. Indiana was on the bubble, and this loss could make them fall the wrong way.
“I'll say this: The Big Ten is a really dang good conference and it doesn't get the respect it deserves. You've heard me say that on numerous occasions. So we got beat by a really good team today in the Big Ten. And there's 14 of them. And on any given night you can go whether you're home or away it doesn't matter,” stated Coach Moren.
The Boilermakers advance to the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament for the 15 time in program history and the first time since 2013. They will play No.1 Ohio State Sat. March 4 at 4 pm E.T.