Katie Gearlds and Purdue women’s basketball sent their seniors off on a high note and picked up an 86-62 win over Penn State on Senior Night.
The Boilermakers avenged their loss to the Nittany Lions earlier this season in a game Katie Gearlds said was a turning point for the team.
The win secures Purdue’s first winning season in Big Ten play since the 2017-2018 season, which was also the last time the program reached 20 wins.
Purdue moves to 18-8 overall and 9-7 in Big Ten play this season with one game remaining in the regular season.
Purdue was shot out of a cannon to start the game against the Nittany Lions. Jeanae Terry corralled the opening tip and whipped it to Lasha Petree, who gave Purdue a 2-0 lead four seconds into the game.
Fifth-year senior Cassidy Hardin followed up the opening bucket with back-to-back threes, giving Purdue an 8-0 lead after just 1:06 of game time.
The Boilermakers then jumped out to a 10-0 lead at the 6:28 mark after a Rickie Woltman layup before Chanaya Pinto hit a free throw and opened the scoring for Penn State. After Penn State started to get things going offensively, Caitlyn Harper scored four straight, and the Purdue lead was back to 10.
No matter what Purdue did in the first quarter, Penn State could not buy a stop. The Boilermakers shot a blistering 61% from the field in the first ten minutes, and that was with a near two minutes scoreless stretch. Purdue closed the first quarter on a 6-0 run over the last 1:49 and took a 14-point lead into the second quarter
Katie Gearlds’ group has had a tendency to follow up impressive quarters with a significant drop-off, but that was not the case this evening. Purdue only got better as the first half wore on.
Penn State was collecting themselves offensively, but the Boilermakers stopped any momentum. Abbey Ellis used a nifty up-and-under move to get a layup to go down and cap off a quick 6-0 run to extend the Purdue lead to 20 at the 8:04 mark of the second quarter.
The combination of Lasha Petree and Caitlyn Harper caught fire in the second quarter to help guide the Boilermakers’ onslaught. Petree scored 10 of her team-high 15 first-half points, while Harper had 8 of her 14 first-half points.
Not only did Purdue shoot the lights out, but they also dominated the glass, out-rebounding Penn State 18-11 in the first 20 minutes. Caitlyn Harper and Jeanae Terry each grabbed five rebounds to lead the way. To make matters worse for Penn State, the Boilermakers scored 16 points off of 11 Nittany Lions turnovers in the first half. Many of them ended up in fast break layups for Purdue.
The Boilermakers dropped 57 points in the first half and took a 23-point lead into the break. It was the most points scored in a half by a Purdue team since 2013. During their last meeting, Purdue scored 60 total points in a loss at State College.
Purdue’s offensive outburst slowed down in the second half with the game already out of hand, but the Boilermakers still had their foot in the pedal. A pair of Abbey Ellis free throws at the 2:25 mark of the third quarter pushed Purdue to its biggest lead of the night at 29.
Despite cooling off offensively, Purdue locked in on the defensive end to help extend its lead. The Boilermakers kept Penn State under 33% shooting in the second half and ended the game with 17 forced turnovers.
Early in the fourth quarter, Lasha Petree surpassed the 20-point mark for the seventh time this season on a layup. Petree’s seven 20-point games are the most in the season since Dominique Oden in 2017-18.
Senior Jeanae Terry nearly pulled off even more history in the home finale. Terry had another non-point double-double with ten rebounds and ten assists. She was one point and two steals away from the first-ever quadruple-double in Purdue history.
Purdue coasted in the final quarter to cap off a Senior Night victory in impressive fashion. The win gave Rickie Woltman, Lasha Petree, and Cassidy Hardin a victory in their last game at Mackey Arena.
Next time out, Purdue will travel to Minnesota to face the Gophers in the Big Ten finale before preparing for the Big Ten Tournament next week.
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