The Boilermakers held on in the last moments of the game to best Northern Illinois 68-63 on Sunday in Mackey Arena.
Purdue (4-0) trailed by as many as 9 points in the first half before building a 15-point lead of its own and eventually winning by 5 in the final seconds of the game.
In a sport where the score can fluctuate so drastically, the message from the team going forward is to be prepared for anything.
“You definitely have to just stay buckled in,” said junior guard Tamara Farquhar, who sank two free throws to ensure victory with seconds remaining. “You can’t just tell yourself, ‘Well we’re up 15, so we’re gonna stay up 15,’ because anything could happen.”
Senior guard Dominique Oden stressed that the team’s approach to each play should remain constant, regardless of the circumstances within a game.
“I think it changes a little bit,” Oden said. “Especially when you’re down, it’s more of, ‘Let’s go, we need to get back in this game.’ When we’re up by 15, it shouldn’t change, but people do kind of relax.”
The Boilermakers struggled to defend in transition in the first half, giving up multiple fast-break layups, and allowed two consecutive 3-pointers from the Huskies (2-3) to close the half.
“The talk in the locker room was, ‘Be aggressive, guard the 3, don’t let people shoot in our faces and make sure we D-up on the ball,’” Oden said on the team’s second-half message. “Just telling ourselves to get this together. Defense is our identity, so let’s show it.”
Oden not only showed the team’s defensive identity but also came out explosively on offense. Within the first two minutes of the half, she drained two consecutive 3-pointers, giving the team the lead for the first time since the first quarter.
“I’m pleased with (Oden’s) leadership,” head coach Sharon Versyp said.
Oden finished with 15 points, shooting 5-for-9 from the field.
Farquhar was another factor in Purdue’s second-half success. She fell into foul trouble early in the game and played little in the first half as a result.
“I think ... Farquhar is our defensive stopper,” Versyp said. “She got two quick fouls and never got to be settled in the game, and she’s really the one who sets the defensive tone for us.”
After halftime, Farquhar finally got into a groove defensively.
“All of a sudden, you see her in the second half, rebounding, getting steals, getting her hands on the ball,” Versyp said. “The game just totally changed with her on both ends of the floor.”
Farquhar, who recorded only 2 points and a rebound in the first half, finished the game with 8 points, eight rebounds and two steals.
With their win over the Huskies, the Boilers remain undefeated, bringing momentum and confidence into the upcoming Gulf Coast Showcase, which starts Friday in Florida.
“It definitely builds our confidence,” Oden said. “It’s also nice to have a game like that, to show that we can’t just show up to a game and expect to win. This 4-0 is definitely gonna bring us confidence and show that we can be successful.”