2/14/21 Rutgers, Kayana Traylor

Junior guard Kayana Traylor dribbles the ball near the 3-point line. Traylor had five assists for the Boilermakers during Purdue’s 75-57 loss on Feb. 14.

Despite struggles earlier this season and a six-game slide leading up to this weekend, the Purdue women’s basketball team kept up with a higher-ranked Michigan State squad through three quarters on Sunday. But the Boilers lost 76-73 on a last-second shot by Spartans junior guard Tory Ozment, extending their losing streak to seven straight.

Battling back after finding themselves down by as many as 14 points, the scoring abilities of Purdue’s veteran guards kept the Boilers within range of the Spartans and gave the team a 2-point lead at the end of the half. The game was tied heading into the final seconds, but Ozment’s shot gave the Spartans the edge and the win.

Michigan State (11-6, 6-6 Big Ten) made its presence known from the start with a strong offense, backing down Purdue’s (6-12, 3-11) bigs and finding several opportunities from mid range. The Spartans hit 10 of their first 14 shots in the first quarter.

The early shooting ability of leaders sophomore guards Julia Ayrault and Alyza Winston gave the Spartans the ability to take a comfortable lead early on, with Ayrault hitting both of her first two shots. Purdue was able to catch up with free throws, but it wasn’t enough to close the gap at the end of the first quarter.

Winston showed little difficulty barreling through Purdue’s defense and was able to score five out of six shots by the second quarter. Purdue seemed to gain confidence after its free-throw shot and junior guard Kayana Traylor scored two of her first three field goals, bringing Boiler offense back up to par.

Traylor carried the team on offense, scoring 31 of Purdue’s 73 points on her own, getting five assists and grabbing four rebounds.

Michigan State held onto its lead after Winston made a free throw and another two more free throws were given to Michigan State, bringing the Spartans’ lead up to 7 points. Freshman center Ra’Shaya Kyle used her size and strength to draw fouls on the interior while contributing to Purdue’s free-throw streak.

Kyle finished the game with three rebounds, two blocks and a steal on defense, and scored 5 points for the Boilers.

Ayrault rejoined the game from the bench once Purdue’s lead grew to 64-60, after falling and hitting her head in the first half. Her return reinvigorated the Spartans and gave them an added scoring punch, but Purdue held a 9-point lead with four minutes left in the game, a complete turnaround from their 10-point deficit in the first quarter.

Both teams traded leads in the last five minutes of the game by a few points, leading to a tie at 73 with 25 seconds left. Ozment scored a 3-pointer in the last 10 seconds, and Michigan State was able to keep its Big Ten standing.

Purdue has three games left on the schedule, all rematches of contests it lost earlier in the season.

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