Purdue hosted No. 8 Maryland for its final home game of the season, but the Boilers couldn't hold off the No. 1 team in the Big Ten, losing 58-55.
The Boilers (17-13, 8-9) have been at their best at home this season, where they boasted a 13-3 record coming into Monday's game, but that wasn't enough Monday night.
The Boilers came out with good energy and seemed determined to get the job done against the Terrapins (25-3,14-3). They forced four turnovers in the first quarter and converted those into 9 points. The Boiler defense was rugged and forced Maryland to knock down tough shots. That tough defense held Maryland, the No. 2 offense in terms of field-goal percentage and the No. 1 3-point shooting team in the conference, to 28 percent from the field and 20 percent from the 3-point line.
Maryland eventually picked up the pace in the second period and caught Purdue off guard at times. But the Boilers adjusted. They continued to play stellar defense, but Maryland was able to put some of those tough shots in the basket.
The Terrapins were able to contain Purdue's lead with their zone defense, which slowed down the Boilermakers. It forced them to play deep into the shot clock, but eventually they found their way.
The Boilermakers also struggled from the 3-point line but were paced by their play in the paint. Purdue made it a point to feed junior forward Ae'Rianna Harris the ball in the post, and once she got the ball, Harris was aggressive down low.
"We're always trying to feed her anytime possible," said head coach Sharon Versyp.
Harris led the Boilers in scoring with 8 points. She also had seven rebounds.
It's important to note that one of the Boilers' best scorers, Karissa McLaughlin, had only 3 points in the game, all coming in the final minute of the second period.
The beginning of the second half was much like that of the first. Purdue came out highly motivated and began to stretch out the lead. Freshman guard Kayana Traylor was the star of the quarter for Purdue. She had 10 points and shot 2-for-2 from the 3-point line.
"We had to have somebody step up and hit a shot," Traylor said.
Traylor entered tonight's game shooting 26 percent from the 3, but today she was was in a groove. Her shots were timely and seemingly neutralized any momentum that the Terrapins could build up. Without the production of Traylor, the Boilers likely would have conceded the lead, as the only other Boiler to score was Harris.
"Kayana Traylor played out of her mind," Versyp said.
The Boilers opened the fourth period with three turnovers, in part due to the zone-defense press the Terrapins were running. They went on a 9-0 run and managed to take the lead from Purdue.
"We had some shots, but were disorganized," Versyp said.
The Boilers never regained the lead, as shots that had evaded the Terrapins during the first three quarters were now falling. Forward Stephanie Jones had 8 points in final period and played a big part in the Terrapins' win.
The Boilers refused to go away quiet, though. They kept Maryland's lead down to 6 points and fought until the very last second ticked off the clock. At the 30-second mark, Purdue inserted the bench; however, they were still able to cut the lead down to one before the final buzzer.
Dominque Oden was fouled on a 3-point attempt that cut it to a single-possession game, and a missed free throw put the Boilers in position to sneak out with a win. Sophomore guard Cassidy Hardin took the final shot that nearly banked in.
Maryland guard Kaila Charles had a game-high 20 points, along with five rebounds and three assists.
Purdue was led by Traylor in the scoring department; she ended with a very efficient 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting and was perfect from behind the arc. She also had seven assists.
• The Boilermakers return to action at noon, Sunday at Indiana for the final regular season game.