BY GREG FLINT
HOFFMAN ESTATES —
The Purdue women’s basketball team trailed by one at the half and by eight less than two minutes later, but used aggressive defense to make a comeback and defeat Wisconsin 74-62.
With the game seemingly slipping away, the Boilermakers tried changing defenses from man to zone to no avail according to head coach Sharon Versyp. Instead, she noted, the difference was effort.
“[We] played defense, got that going again and we changed the tempo,” said Versyp. “[We were] trying to keep it out of 5 [Morgan
Paige] and 35’s [Jacki Gulczynski] hands, and we did that effectively.”
It worked so well that the Badgers went scoreless from the field for over eight minutes, allowing the Boilermakers to mount their comeback on the other end of the court.
Purdue went on a 25-6 run that turned the eight-point deficit into an eleven-point lead with just of six minutes left.
Once they had the lead, the Boilermakers used their depth to keep the pressure on an undermanned Badger team that only dressed eight players.
Bobbie Kelsey, the Wisconsin head coach admitted her team tired late.
“When you have big bodies on the other side, it’s hard when you don’t,” she explained. “You can fill in and help where you can, but Cassie [Rochel, the 6-4 center for the Badgers who saw limited time due to foul trouble] is a big part of what we do.”
Rochel picked up her first foul on the opening tip-off and Purdue looked to be in control early as they opened an 8-0, using defensive quickness to get some early steals.
Wisconsin did not score until the 17:01 mark, but once they did, they seemed to find a way through the Purdue defense. Their dribble penetration keyed a run that got them right back into the game.
Meanwhile, Purdue began to substitute, trying to take advantage of both their depth and Wisconsin legs that might be a bit tired from having played a game the day before.
The tactic appeared to backfire, as the new lineup did not have the same quickness and aggressiveness, thereby allowing the Badgers back into the contest.
Yet the bench did play its part as all nine players that got at least five minutes – the deep bench got in for the final 90 seconds – scored at least a point.
One of those was April Wilson. The freshman hit three of four from beyond the arc to help Purdue make its comeback.
The Boilermakers had two players in double figures – KK Houser with fifteen and Drey Mingo with thirteen – but four players score eight or more including Wilson, Courtney Moses,, Sam Ostarello and Taylor Manuel.
Wisconsin had three players in double figures led by Gulczynski with a game-high 21 and Tessa Cichy and Tiera Stephen with fourteen and ten respectively.
Versyp gave talked about her team playing in their opening contest.
“We know the first game you play in a tournament you need to get through hesitation and play through the game,” she said. “Wisconsin obviously played a very good basketball game. We got our game plan back together at halftime and we executed what we needed to do.”
With the win, Purdue advances to play Nebraska in today’s semifinal.
“I expect an up-tempo game. They want to run as much as they can,” Versyp said.
Greg Flint is a freelance writer/photographer for the Commercial-News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org