Indianapolis, Indiana -- Purdue (22-11, 10-6) outplayed No. 9 Ohio State (26-6, 15-1) in the semi-finals Saturday afternoon en route to a 71-60 win and a spot in the Big Ten Championship game.
Purdue fields one of the best defenses in the Big Ten — ranking first in scoring defense and opponent field goal percentage — and proved why against an Ohio State team that couldn’t find its groove offensively until it was too late.
“Ohio State’s an exceptional basketball team,” Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp said. “Our players just did a great job of executing our game plan defensively. And then offensively we tried to control the tempo as much as possible.”
Ohio State’s best player Kelsey Mitchell — who won the Big Ten Player of Year award in 2015 and led the Big Ten in scoring this year — was stifled all game by Ashley Morrissette and the Boilermaker defense.
Mitchell’s first field goal in the second half didn’t come until midway through the fourth quarter.
Ohio State’s junior guard played arguably her worst game of the season and finished with just 9 points on 3-of-22 shooting.
The Buckeyes were able to stay within striking distance of the Boilermakers for much of the first half, but couldn’t mount a comeback after falling behind by 15 midway through the third quarter.
Versyp’s squad relied on its long-range shooting to carry them against the Buckeyes and it was Purdue freshman Dominique Oden who proved to be the offensive spark for the Boilermakers.
Oden played lights out in the second half. She finished the game with 20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists while shooting 50% from the field.
Purdue’s backcourt proved it can be a force to be reckoned with against an Ohio State team most know because of its great offense.
While Oden dominated the second half, it was senior guard Ashley Morrissette who set the tone early and dominated the Buckeye defense throughout the game.
“People have got to understand: Give Ashley the ball. Keep it in her hands,” Versyp said. “She’s the one that understands what we’re looking for. She understands double, triple teams. She’s our ball handler.”
The senior guard finished the game with 24 points and 7 assists while providing the necessary leadership to will her team to victory.
Ohio State did try to rally late but couldn’t overcome its shooting woes. A day after scoring 99 points against Northwestern, the Buckeyes simply could not get it going offensively.
Ohio State shot a paltry 35% from the field and couldn’t overcome its best player having an off-game.
Buckeye forward Shayla Cooper was the lone bright spot for Ohio State offensively. She finished the game with a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Unlike Purdue, Ohio State is a lock for the NCAA tournament but will have to learn from today’s game in order to have an extended run in the tournament.
Purdue will face the winner of Michigan State vs. Maryland in the Big Ten Championship tomorrow at 7 pm.