The Purdue women’s basketball team was outscored 20-2 in the fourth quarter on Thursday night in Mackey Arena to lose, 65-45.
With the loss, the Boilermakers (16-11, 7-7) have lost five of the last six games with two of those losses in Mackey.
The Boilermakers entered Thursday’s game sitting at fifth place in the conference standings. The Boilers are half a game out fourth place in the Big Ten, which guarantees a double-bye in the upcoming post-season conference tournament.
It was a defensive battle to begin the game. Neither team was willing to give up an edge. They both played intense defense, making everything hard on the opposing team. At the three-minute mark in the first quarter, Purdue led, 10-8. Things began to pick up for the Boilers once they figured out Minnesota's (18-7, 7-7) press defense. Purdue ended the first quarter with a 15-14 lead.
The second period was more of the same. Both teams played excellent defense, forcing their opponent into tough shots late in the shot clock. There were five lead changes and seven ties in the first half.
Purdue went on a 4-minute scoring drought midway through the second quarter. However, the Gophers weren't able to gain a significant lead. Both teams went cold to end the half, but each team hit a last second shot to end the half.
Minnesota led at the half, 27-24.
It was able to win the battle on the boards in the first half, coming away with 19 rebounds compared to Purdue's 13. The Boilers shot a respectable 40 percent from 3 in the first half. The Gophers, on the other hand, were unable to convert a single 3-pointer in the first half.
Both teams struggled with turnovers in the first half. Purdue ended the half with seven turnovers, while the Gophers ended with 10. At one point, Purdue forced four turnovers in a row, which allowed it to stay in the game despite its scoring dry spell.
The Boilers shot out of the halftime break like a cannon, quickly scoring three baskets to take the lead from the Gophers. The 6-0 run forced the Gophers to call timeout and refocus. Minnesota hit a 3-pointer out of the timeout, but it was already too late.
The momentum had already shifted.
The Boilers kept up the intensity on the defensive end and began to get easy looks at the basket in the paint after Minnesota junior Taiye Bello checked out of the game.
Minnesota picked things up before Purdue could run away with the lead. The Boilers had cooled down after their hot start to the second half at the worst possible time. Minnesota had a run late in the quarter and reclaimed the lead back from Purdue heading into the fourth.
Throughout the game, the two teams were neck and neck in every statistical category except one — free-throw shooting. The Boilers had nine attempts while Minnesota shot 21. It was a point of emphasis heading into the game for the Boilers to attack, but they were unable to do so this game.
"Coach's game plan from the very get-go was to attack them, attack (No.) 31, attack (No.) three, attack (No.) 41. And we didn't do that," said sophomore guard Karissa McLaughlin. "We didn't excuse the gameplay, and it was disappointing to see the lack of fights had."
In the fourth quarter, The Boilers moved to a 2-2-1 full court press to slow down the Gophers. In some ways, it worked, as the Gophers had nearly a three-minute dry spell. However, once the dry spell ended Minnesota began to run away with the lead, stretching it out to double digits by the 5-minute mark. The Boilers played good defense, but were unable to put it together on the offensive end.
Purdue did not convert a field goal in the fourth quarter, and its only points came from the free-throw line. McLaughlin led the Boilers in the scoring department with 13 points. Freshman guard Kayana Traylor had five assists, while junior guard Dominique Oden grabbed seven rebounds.
"You can't shoot 0 of 11 (from the floor in the fourth quarter). You'll never win a basketball game," said head coach Sharon Versyp. "You got to be able to knock down shots, you got to be able to perform."
Purdue returns to action at 6 p.m., Sunday, when it hosts Northwestern. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
• Before the game tipped off, junior forward Ae'Rianna Harris was honored for scoring her 1,000th career point in Sunday's game against Nebraska.