11/4/18 Ashland, Lyndsey Whilby, Maddie Dackin

Sophomore guard Lyndsey Whilby dribbles past Ashland senior guard Maddie Dackin at Mackey Arena in early November.

Purdue women’s basketball is off to a strong start with one exhibition win and two regular season wins.

The Boilers have won against Ashland, Ball State and Harvard. The team is primarily comprised of underclassmen, giving the Boilermaker fresh talent to develop into a cohesive program.

The team has talent to work with because it has such a young team.

“We’ve had some tests with (defending the 3-point line) playing Ashland, Ball State and Harvard,” said head coach Sharon Versyp. “They all put up about 30-40 threes. No matter what ... I told the team I’m not sure if we could knock down 28 threes during that amount of time.”

Western Illinois averages around 41 3-pointers per game. Making defense against 3-point shooting will be important for Purdue in this matchup.

The team is also focused on spreading the ball out and developing confidence in the players who are coming off of the bench throughout the game.

“If you can get out to solid starts, you’re able to get a lot of bench play early on,” Versyp said. “Anywhere in the country when it’s a real tight game early on, your bench shrinks.”

Sophomore guard Lyndsey Whilby is a player making an impact when she comes off of the bench. Versyp acknowledged Whilby is integral to the offense.

“Look at her production when she’s in right now. It’s been extremely favorable, very, very positive. And she’s a kid that can score the ball in a lot of different ways, and she does it really, really well,” said Versyp. “When Whelby has the ball, she is savvy and has confidence in her skill. She has been a huge asset so far.”

Purdue has to focus on fine-tuning it’s game play to continue to win against challenging teams, according to Versyp.

“Continuing to do a better job in transition offense, trying to get our 3-point shooters shooting the ball a little bit better and then establishing the inside game with (freshman forward Nyagoa Gony) ... and (junior center Fatou Diagne),” Versyp said. “Those are the few big things besides everything else we need to do.”

The Boilermakers are setting goals early on in the season, Versyp said.

“We’ve only played two games thus far, but I’m hoping over the next several weeks we’ll be able to get more point production in a lot of different areas,” she said.

Another goal the Boilermakers have set for themselves is to be versatile throughout the court.

Playing intense games motivates the team to replicate similar intensity in their practices.

“We always preach, ‘How we practice is how we play,’” Versyp said. “I think it was great to play a very, very good basketball team in a very tight scenario and just having that will not to lose.”

Practicing with ferocity is what will prepare the team as they head into each upcoming game. Sophomore guard Karissa McLaughlin does not believe that Western Illinois presents a challenge the team has not faced before.

“We’ve played a lot of great teams that have been able to shoot the ball,” McLaughlin said in reference to playing Western Illinois. “We’ve played plenty of teams who have had plenty of shooters. We have enough experience under our belt to be able to handle that. That’s our primary focus: Stop their shooters.”

The team is confident in its skills and plans to use those skills to challenge Western Illinois in its next game.

Western Illinois is 1-2 heading into the 2018-19 season. The Boilers have played teams of similar caliber before, so the team knows what it needs to bring to the table.

“We’re going to score however we can,” McLaughlin said.

The Boilers will take on Western Illinois at 7 p.m. Thursday in Mackey Arena.

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