By Drew Kamaski | @d_kamaski14
Sports Capital Journalism Program
INDIANAPOLIS — Fifth-seeded Purdue overcame a 17-point deficit to defeat fourth-seeded Indiana, 66-60, to advance to a semifinal in the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament. Freshman guard Dominique Oden, who scored a game-high 24 points, made a 3-point shot with 38 seconds to play to help the Boilermakers (21-11) reach a semifinal game against top-seeded Ohio State.
“It was just I didn’t want to go home,” Oden said.
Purdue, which has won a conference record nine tournament championships, has a 41-13 record, a winning percentage of .759. Indiana (20-10) had lost eight of its previous nine games in the tournament. But for the second consecutive season, the Hoosiers equaled their best seeding with the No. 4 spot in a 10-6 conference season.
When the Hoosiers took a 41-24 lead 50 seconds into the third quarter, they appeared headed for a win that would have tied a school record for victories in a season and placed Indiana in a Big Ten semifinal for the first time since 2006.
“The first half they just kicked us in every category,” said Purdue coach Sharon Versyp.
Until Purdue engineered a reversal that suddenly raises questions about Indiana’s chances of securing an NCAA tournament bid for a second consecutive season.
“Coach came during halftime and she gave us a choice,” said Purdue senior guard Ashley Morrissette, who scored 21 points on 7-of-19 shooting. “Go home…or come out and 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.”
The Hoosiers had outscored the Boilermakers 21-9 in the second quarter to take a 39-24 lead into the break. Junior guard Tyra Buss scored 14 points in the half, including 4-of-7 3-point shooting.
But with the Boilermakers more determined and efficient at the defensive end, the difference was dramatic. Indiana made 2 of 17 shots – 11.8 percent — in the third quarter. The Hoosiers committed six turnovers and had just one assist. Buss, who reached double figures for the 84th time in her career, would score just 2 points in the second half on 1-of-8 shooting.
“I think we just were careless with the ball in the second half, especially the start of the third quarter,” Buss said. “We just didn’t come out with the energy we had in the first half.”
A 3-point shot by Morrissette, on a pass from Oden, tied the score at 47-47 with 7:09 to go. Indiana recovered temporarily to lead by four points after a layup by senior Alexis Gassion, who scored 14 points with 13 rebounds.
But Purdue’s decisive 10-2 run, with four Boilermakers contributing, took control of the game. A layup by junior guard Andreona Keys, who scored 6 points, gave Purdue a 56-55 lead with 1:29 to go, its first lead since 2-0. Oden’s 3-point shot with 38 seconds to go created a 59-55 lead.
“It was ours to get,” said Indiana coach Teri Moren, “and we didn’t get it.”