12/21/21 North Alabama, Brooke Moore

Senior guard Brooke Moore drives to the basket around her defender in the first half against North Alabama on Tuesday.

The Purdue Boilermakers (9-4) hosted the North Alabama Lions (5-6) in their final game before their own short Christmas break. The Boilermakers will return to conference play after the break looking to extend their nine-win record with a victory over an ASUN opponent.

Even as they won 86-53, on Tuesday, the Boilers did not retain control of the tempo the entire game.

The Lions struggled with turnovers in the first half. Guard Hina Suzuki turned the ball over five times in the first half, leading to some easy scores from the Purdue guards. The Boilermakers ended the half with 11 points off turnovers, forcing eight turnovers against the Lions to get there.

Soon, repeated mistakes from Purdue allowed the game to bend in North Alabama's favor. A turnover from junior forward Rickie Woltman snowballed into a 6-point scoring tear from the Lions. Senior forward Tiahna Sears made three straight layups that tied the game, 25-25.

Junior guard Jeanae Terry achieved a triple double in the Boilers’ previous game against Miami of Ohio on Sunday. She once again took no time off, grabbing early assists and rebounds against North Alabama.

Following a scattered few Boiler turnovers and missed jumpers, for 26 seconds, the game was tied. What was thought of as a non “Power Five” conference team had now made a strong second quarter push.

However, the Boilermakers collected themselves.

The upperclassmen held the team up with a scoring drive in the last three minutes. Senior guards Cassidy Hardin and Brooke Moore, along with juniors Jeanea Terry and Abby Ellis, put together a collection of shots to extend an 11-point lead before half up 37-26.

Coming out of the half, the same four players lifted the Boilermaker offense once again. Moore looked particularly impressive, hitting six of her seven shots, three from behind the arc. The team scored 27 points in the third quarter alone, stretching the lead to 25.

Woltman played exceptionally well on defense after the turnover. She grabbed her first double double of her career along with a block and a steal all before the start of the fourth quarter.

"Gosh, I love that kid," coach Katie Gearlds said of Woltman after the game. "To view it from the outside looking in – and not be with in it every day - the kid just needed an opportunity. She needed someone to really believe in her. She's turning into something for us."

By the fourth, the game felt practically over. The ESPN win probability had flatlined at 99.9% by the third quarter with a small hill representing the second quarter scare. Purdue never let its foot off the gas, fighting for rebounds and loose balls even as the lead extended past 30 points.

Suzuki rebounded past the early turnovers, obtaining 10 assists in the game. While North Alabama shot at a low percentage the entire game, their main struggle came on the boards. Purdue out-rebounded the Lions 47 to 28.

Woltman was a big part of the rebounding dominance on Tuesday.

"I'm so proud of who is she is on the court and off the court right now," Gearlds said. "She's turning into a leader for us. She's being a little more vocal. I just can't put it into words."

Woltman and teammate Brooke Moore combined for 14 of 19 from the floor on Tuesday.

"That's good numbers," Gearlds said. "Brooke is really a high volume shooter. When she is able to get hot like that (7 of 8 from the field, including 3 of 4 from 3-point distance) we want to keep her in (the game) and find her rhythm."

Woltman was 7 of 11 from the field.

"Rickie better shoot a high percentage because all she shoots are layups," Gearlds said. "She misses she better get the rebound and score and I think she did that a couple of times today."

Moore also sang Woltman's praises after the game.

"Rickie's confidence has boosted up since I've been here," Moore said. "Last year was not the Rickie that we see now. Like now, it's like 'Yeah, Rick!" She's stronger, she's more passionate, she's more feeling herself and I think that's important for us to have her come around and just understand she has it."

Woltman, who has been getting a lot more playing time while Ra Shaya Kyle has been dealing with a lower leg injury. The 6-6 sophomore center started the first nine games and averaged 11 points a game. In the meantime, Woltman has taken on additional duties in Kyle's absence.

"I've just trying to step into a bigger role this year and trying to prove to everyone that I'm capable of being here," Woltman said. "I know the last two years I haven't gotten to play too much, but I am stepping into a bigger role this year and I think the whole environment is just a great atmosphere. The team playing under Coach Gearlds is just a great opportunity."

After finishing their non-conference slate 9-4, Purdue will return to Big Ten play when it plays Wisconsin next Tuesday at 9 p.m. in Madison. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.

"We think we should have more than nine (wins) right now," Gearlds said. "We think we've been in position in a couple of ball games where we should have more than nine. And that's what being around these guys so much fun. They work so hard and they know they are putting in the right work to put us in a position to win. And we've been there."

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