BIG Game 7: Gophers Visit Purdue (1-19-20)

Ignatius L Hoops

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The Games Go On


With Purdue alum Teri Moren building the Indiana program into a consistent winner, Purdue, a one-time national power, has slipped to third in Hoosier Hysteria power rankings. Trailing Notre Dame and the Hoosiers isn’t sitting well in West Lafayette. Nor is head coach Sharon Versup’s often remarkably stodgy, grind it out offense exciting the fan base. Sharon Versyp is in her 14th season in West Lafayette and has taken Purdue to 9 NCAA’s. But, after missing the Big Dance the last two seasons, Versyp obviously thought it would be nice, if not essential, to spice things up.

Enter Melanie Balcomb:

Balcomb was hired last spring as “Senior Associate Head Coach” replacing former Purdue star Lindsay Wisdom-Hilton who “left to pursue other coaching opportunities”. Balcomb, the former head coach at Xavier and Vanderbilt, is known for her offensive savvy. She served as a non-coaching “Director of Offensive Analytics” for South Carolina when the Gamecocks won the National Championship. During her 14 seasons at Vanderbilt she led the Commodores to 12 NCAA tournaments before being jettisoned for former Purdue star, Stephanie White.

While this season’s Boiler team lacks the usual height in the starting lineup, it doesn’t lack experience. Senior guard Dominique Oden and senior forward Ae’Rianna Harris are joined by junior guard Karissa McLaughlin as both 33+ minutes a night players and 1000+ point career scorers. With the season ending injury to Tamara Farquhar, Jenelle Grant, forward and red shirt junior transfer from U of Pacific, has joined Kayanna Traylor in the starting lineup. Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp uses her bench; but the bench minutes are spread around.

Purdue started the B1G season well with an opening win in Columbus over the Buckeyes 66-50. Yes, there was some concern about the Boilers 23 turnovers compared to OSU’s 19; but they out rebounded OSU 45-26. Plus everyone wanted to celebrate Purdue’s first win in Columbus since 2004.

This was followed by a rather workman like win at Mackey Arena over Wisconsin 72-61. McLaughlin led all scorers with 22 shooting 5-8 from three. Hmm, with the offense putting up 66 points and 72 points; perhaps the Melanie Balcomb hire was working.

Then the offense started tripping over itself.

In the next game, at Mackey, Rutgers ran off to a 17 point lead with 7:01 remaining in the 2nd quarter. But Rutgers can revert to Rutgers and the Scarlet Knights only scored 4 second quarter points. So the Boilers only trailed 28-19 at the half. A slow as molasses comeback eventually tied the score at 51 with 1:17 remaining before an 8-2 Rutgers run closed it out for The Scarlet Knights.

In Bloomington, the Hoosiers made short work of the Boilers. A 14-6 Indiana run at the end of the first quarter propelled the Hoosiers to a 66-48 victory.

Against Northwestern, Purdue had another single digit quarter, the second, when they were outscored 16-8. However, an 11-2 Boiler run in the fourth helped bring Purdue within three; but Jennelle Grant missed a triple try with :05 seconds remaining and Northwestern escaped 56-61. So, three losses with an offensive output of 53, 48 and 56 was at least a couple of steps backwards.



Enter Doctor Illini with the magic potion for offensive ills:

Purdue evened their B1G record at 3-3 with an 81-67 win in West Lafayette. All five Boiler starters were in double figures; McLaughlin 23 points, Traylor 15, Harris 13, Oden 12 and Grant 11. It wasn’t as easy as it seemed. Despite holding Holesinska to 9 points (she had 28 versus Minnesota), Purdue had some trouble with the Illini’s height early and more trouble with the Illini’s aggressive defense later. Illinois, 6-15 from the line, left more than a few points on the court. For the Boiler’s the game was a mixed bag of offense and defense which pretty much defines Purdue’s season thus far.



In the B1G:

Purdue is 12th in offense with 62.7/game (Minnesota is 7th with 67.0/game)

Purdue is 2nd in defense with 60.7/game (Minnesota is 10th with 69.7/game)

Purdue is 14th in turnover margin with -4.8/game (Minnesota is 9th with -0.3/game)



Common non-conference opponent: Purdue defeated Arizona State 59-52 in Estero Florida and Minnesota defeated the Sun Devils 81-66 in Minneapolis.


B1G Wins: @ Ohio State 66-50, Wisconsin 72-61, Illinois 81-67.

B1G Losses: Rutgers 53-59, @ Indiana 48-66, @Northwestern 56-61

The Bad News:

Purdue has owned the Gophers at Williams Arena. The last Gopher home victory over the Boilers was 74-47 on January 1st, 2010. Since that win a decade ago, Minnesota has dropped seven straight home contests to the Boilermakers including last season’s 53-64 loss. Minnesota led at the half 27-26 before Purdue took control. In last year’s game the Boilers spread out the scoring among players we will see this year. McLaughlin had 17 points, Oden 14, Harris 13 and Cassidy 10. For the Gophers, who were still starting two posts at that time, Pitts had 19, Bell 17, Lamke 9 points and 8 rebounds and Taiye Bello 6 points and 18 rebounds.

The Good News

We are playing in West Lafayette where we’ve won three times in the last decade including last season’s Gopher 65-45 rout. The sad news, for some of us at least, is that our leading scorer was Destiny Pitts with 27 points and 7 rebounds.

Minnesota led 45-43 at the end of three. Purdue’s only score in the fourth quarter was two free throws by Whilby at the 4:45 mark in the quarter. Meanwhile the Gophers went on a 20 point scoring spree. 14 of those points were by Pitts. Just another example of Purdue’s offensive woes.

Probable Starters (B1G Stats):

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
5’8”GSrDominique Oden34.812.86.7
5’7”GJrKarissa McLaughlin36.014.22.7
6’1”FSrAe’Riana Harris33.911.88.2
5’9”GSoKayana Traylor26.77.22.5
6’0”FRJrJenelle Grant16.26.33.3


Bench (B1G Stats):

HGTPOSYRPLAYERMINAVGREB
5’10”GSoCassidy Hardin13.32.81.8
5’11”GJrLyndsey Whilby7.63.20.8
6’4”CRJrFatou Diagne5.30.82.3
5’10”GFrRoxanne Makolo9.50.71.0
6’4”FFrRickie Woltman5.21.01.2
 
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Ignatius L Hoops

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Some Purdue Sports Notes:
Ae'Rianna Harris continues to hone in on more career accolades. The senior is four rebounds away from breaking the all-time Purdue mark of 968 held by Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton. She needs two more double-doubles to take over the career title, currently at 26. Harris is also 11 blocks away from clearing Joe Barry Carroll's mark of 349 career rejections at Purdue

• After 46 points in the paint against Illinois, the Boilermakers are averaging 28.7 points inside per game.
• McLaughlin has drilled a team-high 39 3-pointers this season, which ranks sixth in the Big Ten.
• Harris is currently second on the NCAA active blocked shots leaderboard, nine behind Denia Davis-Stewart from Merrimack
 

Katogopher

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Well at least the collaps came in the first quarter rather than the the fourth I suppose
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Nice to get the two fouls on McLaughlin. Similar to the Iowa game, the Gophers looked pretty organized in the first half except for the section where they had K Bello and Tomancova on the court together.
 

EaganGopher22

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If this game follows the script of previous games, maybe we can hope for a water main break or something before the 4th quarter begins?
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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What a run at the end.

Powell with a layup
Scalia with an and one
Powell layup
Hubbard layup
Powell steal layup
and the Hubbard with a steal layup
and Hubbard opens with three!
Maybe i forgot one
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Hubbard gets elbowed in the nose and is now on the bench with an ice bag held to her face.
 

Katogopher

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So happy for the players after a rough start to the year, how they were able to block out all the distractions and win is beyond me. They looked great for 3 quarters against Iowa and 4 strong quarters today. Although I wish Pitts wouldn’t leave, great to see some others players step up. Personally I like Tomancova on the court and Masha is great defensively. If Masha can hone her offensive skills this could be a dangerous team again.
 

whalenfan

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The squad needed that one, Well played game for the most part, Scalia is really really good.
 

Gophers112233

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I REALLY wish we would use that pressure defense more often since to give Purdue FITS..

when you have 5 players in double figures you should win the game.. and I'm glad that stat held true today..

offense looks better moving without the ball better and not STANDING around..

Scalia really likes that short corner near the bench for her 3's or going off the dribble, worked plenty today.
 

hungan1

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Is there a possibility of Pitts, Whalen, and the U reconsidering and reconciling? It sounds like Destiny Pitts made a regretable huge mistake. Whatever Whalen did precipitated backing Pitts into a dark corner that would cost her her scholarship when all the time previous to that she was a model team leader and player.

It is tragic. Is this a case in point where maybe, just maybe they reconsider giving a second chance to Pitts if she and Whalen kiss and make up and forgive?
 

GringaGopher

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I have been hoping for this but reading DP's statement I would say it's highly unlikely. In spite of some posters stating they have inside information IMHO we will never have all the facts from both sides of the story. The team got a W today so let's hope they can get on a positive run.
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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The 19 point run starting at 43-43 and ending at 62-43.

Third quarter:
2:45 Powell layup
2:02 Scalia layup and foul shot
1:40 Powell jumper
0:46 Hubbard layup
0:36 Powell layup

Fourth quarter:
9:53 Hubbard three pointer
9:27 Tomancova layup
8:32 Scalia three pointer
 

tripledouble

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This was a nice win, one I might not have even expected with DP. I'm happy that the ladies were able to have some good things happen after a rough week. Looks to me like they are not going to pack it in/give up on the season; they've played hard the last two games. Team looks like it's playing well together. Hubbard and Brunson have stepped it up a bit, as has Scalia. The two freshman guards have been solid all year. Adashchyzk (sp?) seems to be getting more comfortable. T. Bello had a difficult matchup against Harris today, but she's still easily one of the best rebounders in the country.
 

hungan1

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With Pitts off the team, it opens up opportunities for others to step up/in and eventually if not already get better as a team.
 

whalenfan

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This was a nice win, one I might not have even expected with DP. I'm happy that the ladies were able to have some good things happen after a rough week. Looks to me like they are not going to pack it in/give up on the season; they've played hard the last two games. Team looks like it's playing well together. Hubbard and Brunson have stepped it up a bit, as has Scalia. The two freshman guards have been solid all year. Adashchyzk (sp?) seems to be getting more comfortable. T. Bello had a difficult matchup against Harris today, but she's still easily one of the best rebounders in the country.
The last 2 games they have played hard and really shared the ball offensively. Probably the best ball movement all year in these 2 games. It sucks about Pitts but this is still a fun team and a team thats dangerous if they keep playing like this.
 

CutDownTheNet

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The 19 point run starting at 43-43 and ending at 62-43.

Third quarter:
2:45 Powell layup
2:02 Scalia layup and foul shot
1:40 Powell jumper
0:46 Hubbard layup
0:36 Powell layup

Fourth quarter:
9:53 Hubbard three pointer
9:27 Tomancova layup
8:32 Scalia three pointer
Here’s an incredibly crazy statistic about that 19 point run over about 4.25 minutes.

If (just for fun) you extrapolate that scoring pace to a full 40-minute game, you get approximately 179 points per game. If (for even more fun) you extrapolate that to a full 48-minute NBA game, you get over a 214 point NBA-length game.

Of course, that run was an unlikely event (that nevertheless did happen), but you couldn’t play at that pace for a full game.

So we’re not quite ready yet to take on the Golden State Warriors.
 
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