BY GREG FLINT
HOFFMAN ESTATES —
Third-seeded Purdue upset the number-two seed, Nebraska, 77-64 to advance to the title game of the Big Ten Women’s basketball tournament.
The Boilermakers pulled away late in the first half, survived a second half run by the Huskers to claim their thirteenth win against one loss as a three-seed in the history of the tournament.
Nebraska wanted to play at a fast pace and Purdue obliged through much of the first half. Purdue coach Sharon Versyp referred to it as “helter skelter” and added, “Everybody was just pushing the tempo, going up and down as hard as both teams could.”
That led to numerous unforced turnovers by both teams as they raced up and down the court.
With about nine minutes left in the first half, Purdue went on a 8-0 run using a basket by Sam Ostarello and treys from Courtney Moses and KK Houser to go from down one to up seven at 28-21.
Versyp described that sequence by saying, “Those 3s came in transition. I thought that was a big boost. We love to run. And when you got the two guards knocking down 3s, then the inside opens up.”
That meant Drey Mingo, Sam Ostarello and Taylor Manuel, who combined for 37 of the 77 Purdue points.
They also dominated the boards as the Boilermakers had a 40-33 edge including fifteen to fourteen in offensive rebounds.
Nebraska head coach Connie Yori called rebounding and turnovers “the two elephants” declaring those were the difference in the contest.
“We didn’t really take care of either of those areas,” she said, “and, really, that was costly for us,”
The statistics agree with her as Purdue outscored Nebraska 17-6 off turnovers and 15-8 in second-change points – a 16-point edge for the Boilermakers in a game they won by only 13.
Purdue led by 11, 42-31, at the intermission and as many as 18 five minutes into the second half, but as Versyp said she expected, Nebraska made a charge.
The Huskers went on an 8-0 run in four minutes to cut the margin to ten, but Mingo hit a pair of free throws to end the Purdue drought
Lindsey Moore of the Huskers, who led all scorers with 22 points, spoke about not cutting the deficit below ten.
“I think we just missed some easy buckets inside,” she explained. “We had good looks at it to break into the single digits, but we just weren’t able to connect on it.”
. The teams traded baskets for the next four minutes, but then Moses hit a deuce and a trey then Dee Williams added two more free throws to put the Boilermakers back up by 17. From there, Purdue simply ran down the clock to get the win.
With the victory, the Boilermakers advance to play the fourth-seeded Michigan State Spartans who upset top-seed Penn State 54-46.
On the season, the Boilermakers split with the Spartans with each winning on the opponents’ home floor.
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org