The Purdue women's basketball team bounced back after three straight losses with a 72-50 win against the Fighting Illini on Thursday night at Mackey Arena.
Coming into Thursday's game, the Boilermakers had dropped three straight home games to Iowa and Nebraska and a road game at No. 23 Michigan State.
The Boilermakers (16-9, 7-5 Big Ten) shared the ball efficiently throughout the first quarter, and dug in defensively. However, Illinois (9-14, 1-11) did a good job creating second-chance opportunities with five offensive rebounds coming in the first five minutes of the game. They took a 21-20 into the second quarter.
The turning point of the game came in the second quarter where the Boilermakers locked up defensively, forcing low percentage shots and holding Illinois scoreless for over eight minutes in the quarter. They held the team to 5 points total and outscored Illinois 17-5 in the period.
Sophomore guard Karissa McLaughlin played a complete game, surveying the floor, finding her open teammates, and making the right reads in pick-and-roll situations. She finished the game with 23 points on an efficient 9-for-15 from the field.
She entered a blowout with around three minutes left and was forced to leave the game with an ankle injury shortly after. After the game, she said she just tweaked it and that it wasn't anything serious, and talked about the team's overall defensive effort.
"Our goal was to hold them under 58," she said. "We came out, we knew we had to step up our defense. It had been lacking the past three games or so. ... When we push it in transition, we're awesome, and we did that multiple times."
The Boilermakers' leading scorer, junior guard Dominique Oden, had an off night scoring. She finished with only 10 points on 2-for-10, but was able to impact the game in other ways, and ended with seven rebounds and four assists.
The Boilermakers dominated in the second half on both ends of the court. Illinois was held to 4-of-18 shooting in the third quarter and finished the quarter shooting just 22 percent. Illinois made a run in the third quarter, cutting the difference in score to 7 at one point, but the Boilermakers kept up their intensity.
Illinois' sophomore forward Ali Andrews was the only player able to get anything going all night, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Junior guard Cierra Rice was also had a decent night. She finished with 11 points on 50-percent shooting from the field.
Purdue took a 17-point advantage into the final period and built upon its momentum in the final period. Junior forward Ae'Rianna Harris was a beast on the boards tonight, finishing with 12 rebounds to go along with her 10 points.
After the game on her radio show, head coach Sharon Versyp talked about the run her team made in the second quarter.
"I just thought we did a really good job of taking away the 3-point shot tonight," she said.
She also talked about sophomore guard Tamara Farquhar's defense and the overall team contribution from an offensive standpoint.
"Obviously, (Farquhar) does an amazing job defensively," she said. "She was able to score, able to get some buckets in transition. Everybody stepped up and did something. We are pretty excited about that."
When asked about senior forward Alex Wittinger, who is Illinois' leading scorer, and the way she went down, she said, "When you lose a player that plays a lot of minutes, that affects your team. She's a great player. I hope she's OK."
Harris talked about how big of a deal scoring 1,000 points is gonna be.
"It's gonna be a big deal for me in college," she said, "because I didn't get it in high school."
She said her mindset has changed since high school, and she looks to score the ball more.
The Boilers return to action at 3 p.m. on Sunday when they plays at Nebraska.