Purdue won its season opener against Milwaukee 68-55.
The Boilers (1-0) faced the Panthers (1-1) at home, but the quiet Sunday afternoon did not produce many fans in the student section. Despite the low turnout, the Gold and Black Sound remained energetic, playing and cheering throughout the game.
Head coach Sharon Versyp started the game with senior forward Ae’Rianna Harris and guards junior Karissa McLaughlin, sophomore Kayana Traylor, senior Dominique Oden and junior Tamara Farquhar.
Right off the bat, Purdue took the lead, scoring 8 points in the first five minutes of play.
Purdue made moves on Milwaukee’s end of the court, making simple passes around the Panthers and creating space for charges to the basket.
Versyp noted that McLaughlin was the glue holding the team together by defending skillfully and sparking plays with other teammates.
“With (McLaughlin’s) minutes she defended, she didn’t let (the Milwaukee guard) score at all,” Versyp said. “She had a really great floor game. She played great defense, and she made everybody around her better.”
The Boilers stayed in control of their end of the court as well, claiming three blocks and 14 rebounds in the first quarter of the game, and maintaining a 6-point lead.
Traylor said the improvement in chemistry was evident in the game, but saw room for improvement.
“We played really well,” Traylor said. “We’re already starting to click this early in the season. I think we still have a lot of work to do.”
A 3-pointer scored by Milwaukee brought the score to a 5-point game and gave the Panthers momentum.
Traylor noted that the Boilers were able to bounce back after those discouraging plays and stay ahead.
“We were able to pick ourselves out of bad runs or them having a good run, and we were able to get ourselves out of that funk and get going again,” Traylor said.
McLaughlin scored a 3-pointer that kept Purdue in the lead. The half ended with a score of 32-24.
The Milwaukee bench exploded in celebration when senior forward Lizzie Odegard scored an and-one for the Panthers with three minutes left in the third quarter. This play gave Milwaukee energy and threatened the Boilers’ lead, but a 3-pointer from Traylor with two minutes left in the third quarter pushed Purdue’s lead above 10 points.
McLaughlin and Oden led the majority of the big offensive plays in the last quarter.
Oden banked a layup from a pass under the basket from McLaughlin, giving Purdue a 20-plus-point lead.
Purdue ended the game with a 3-pointer from junior guard Lyndsey Whilby off a pass from McLaughlin and a free throw from Traylor, finalizing their win.
Versyp was satisfied with the game, noting the 24-point lead as a highlight, but saw areas that could be improved as they prepare for the rest of the season.
“We were able to get out and run and execute and read the defense,” Versyp said. “We’ve got to be able to do better at executing at the end, understanding and pace. We can’t let down when we’re ahead by 24. You’ve got to keep things going.”