Junior guard Tamara Farquhar stared down the rim, sinking both of her free throws to ensure a 68-63 Boilermaker win, and retention of their undefeated record, Sunday in Mackey Arena.
"Just make it," Farquhar said to herself. "We had shot free throws early on in the day when we had shoot around, and I'm not the best free throw shooter. Just going to the line was really stressful, but I (just reminded) myself that the team believes in me."
The Boilermakers (4-0) started the game slow, trailing 11-3 and struggling to defend in transition. The Boiler defense allowed five 3-pointers in the first quarter, but responded with four of their own, two of which were drained by sophomore guard Kayana Traylor.
Traylor finished finished with 15 points and nine assists.
The Huskies (2-3), who scored only two of their last nine shots of the first quarter, struggled to reattain their high offensive output until later in the half.
The Boilers' transition defense game the huskies multiple opportunities for break aways, but the huskies failed to capitalize.
A three pointer from Huskies freshman forward Mikayla Brandon with two minutes remaining put the huskies up by seven, and another sank by senior guard Courtney Woods gave the Huskies a nine point lead, their biggest of the half.
Farquhar scored her first basket of the night with only seconds remaining, making the NIU lead 35-30 at halftime.
"The first half, we really struggled just guarding the ball," Farquhar said. "I think we were so focused on not having them drive we gave them shots. When we came back in the second half that definitely changed."
The Boilermakers came out hot in the second half.
Senior guard Dominique Oden made a jumper in the first possession, followed by a stolen inbounds pass and an and-one layup from junior guard Karissa Mclaughlin. Oden sunk two consecutive 3-pointers in the ensuing Boiler possessions, giving the team the lead for the time time since the first quarter.
"It wasn't just success from three-point that was our go," Oden said. "It was just 'shoot the open shot,' and it just happened to be three for this game. We just had to take the open shots and I feel like we did that in the second half."
Oden shot 5-9 from the field and scored 15 points.
The Boilers outscored the Huskies 21-11 in the third quarter, leading 51-46, Purdue's largest lead so far.
Just minutes into the first quarter the Boilermakers began to pull away, stretching their lead to 60-46 with seven minutes remaining.
With less than a minute left, two layups from junior guard Myia Starks brought the Huskies back within three points.
"We gotta stay consistent and put the petal to the metal," head coach Sharon Versyp said. "You just gotta keep working on trying to see who your identity is. You learn when you get in the fourth quarter in the last six minutes, you kinda gotta go with a few kids, and that's alright."
Kayana Taylor made only one of two free throws with 19 seconds left, giving the Huskies the ball, down by four.
After a timeout, Woods drove to the basket for an uncontested layup, making the score 65-63 Boilermakers.
Farquhar's free throws at the end of the game clinched it, and the Boilers won 68-63.