Purdue outlasted Western Illinois on Sunday afternoon by capitalizing on its short game and rebounding consistently, winning its second home game of the season 66-59.
Head coach Sharon Versyp started the game with the familiar line-up: junior guard Karissa McLaughlin, junior forward Tamara Farquhar, senior guard Dominique Oden, senior forward Ae’Rianna Harris and sophomore guard Kayana Traylor.
Harris took the tip for the Boilers (3-0) and a shot from Farquhar in the paint gave Purdue an initial lead. This decisive start became the theme in Purdue’s win as the team focused on collecting the ball off the board and putting up shots in the lane.
“Rebounding is a focus all the time for us,” Versyp said. “But that was the biggest thing, crashing the offensive board and keeping them off the board so they didn’t have opportunities.”
The Boilers focused on boxing out in practice this week, and it showed in their defensive results. Harris and Farquhar led the team with double-digit rebounds, finishing the game with 17 and 14, respectively. Harris hopes to continue recording those numbers as the season continues.
“That’s something we should be doing at every game,” Harris said. “I think the first couple of games were all right, but this is the type of game that we needed to have for ourselves.”
Oden, who also collected eight rebounds, was excited for what those results meant for the team this season.
“We can count on (Harris and Farquhar) to get those rebounds that count because at the end of the game, rebounds are what win you the game,” Oden said. “It also enhances everybody else’s play because they see (Farquhar) and (Harris) do that, and they’re like, ‘I want to do that too.’”
Steals from Western Illinois (3-2) threatened Purdue’s lead in the fourth quarter, but the Boilers were able to reclaim their lead by running up their score with shots in the paint.
“That’s something we have to clean up,” Versyp said. “They’ve got to be better; they’ve got to be more focused ... and not be careless.”
Oden, who led the game with 16 points, was an essential component in the Purdue win.
“She’s got to play on both sides of the floor. She knows that she’s the leader,” Versyp said. “Both (Oden) and (Farquhar) do those hustle plays, and good things happen for us. When you’re a leader and you’re a senior, you gotta make those plays in order to get that momentum going.”
Oden scored for Purdue at critical points in the game, which kept the team’s energy up.
“It’s something I’ve definitely worked on as a leader and as a captain for my team,” Oden said. “It’s something that you really have to focus on. When you’re beating a team, you don’t want to just beat them. You want to keep going and keep putting the pressure on them. When our team is down and they’re getting on a run, you need somebody out there that’s going to say, ‘Come on y’all. We need to step up.’”