When the Purdue women’s basketball team hosts an afternoon New Year’s Eve conference game it will try to do something it has not done in four seasons – start 2-0 in the Big Ten.
The Boilermakers (10-3, 1-0) host Wisconsin (8-4, 0-1) at 4 p.m., Tuesday – the third straight New Year’s Eve matchup with the Badgers interestingly enough. The two teams are 1-1 in those two most recent games.
But, more importantly, Purdue could move to 2-0 in the Big Ten – something it has not done since the 2015-16 season. That year, the Boilers started conference play 5-0, but finished the season 10-8 in the Big Ten.
The Badgers have won 4 of their last 5 games this season, but lost their conference opener 64-61 to Rutgers Saturday at the Kohl Center in Madison. They are 1-2 away from home with the lone win coming at North Dakota State (3-10) with losses at Colorado, 74-57, on Nov. 14 and at Georgia Tech, 60-41, on Dec. 5.
Last season, when Wisconsin was 15-18 overall and 4-11 in the Big Ten, it went 2-10 on the road. One of Wisconsin’s 4 Big Ten wins was in the Kohl Center against Purdue on Dec. 31, 2018, 76-69.
Wisconsin has not had a winning season since going 18-15 in 2010-11. But, the Badgers are 4-1 against Purdue in the last 5 matchups.
The Badgers have three players averaging double figures on the season. They are led by Imani Lewis, a 6-1 sophomore forward, who averages 13.1 per game. She also leads the team in rebounding with 7.5 boards per game.
Joining her in double-figure scoring is Abby Laszewski, a 6-3 senior forward, at 12.1 points per game. Laszewski is second in rebounding at 7.0 per game and she leads the team in blocked shots with 15. Sydney Hilliard, a 5-11 freshman guard, is the final double-digit scorer. She averages 10.3 per game.
Suzanne Gilreath, a 5-4 senior guard who has started 8 games this season, is the team’s leading 3-point shooter. She has hit on 23 of 69 from long range, 33.3 percent. She has taken the most 3-point shots on the team that has attempted 62 on the season.
Wisconsin shoots 41.6 percent from the field – including 31.3 from 30-point distance – and 65.5 from the line. The Badgers average 66.2 points per game and give up 59.7.
Purdue, comparatively, shoots 41.9 percent from the field – 34.4 percent from 3-point range. The Boilers are shooting 72.3 percent from the line. As a team, they average 64.5 per game and give up 58.7.
Purdue also has three players averaging double figures led by Karissa McLaughlin, a 5-7 junior guard, and Ae’Rianna Harris, a 6-1 senior forward, both who are averaging 11.8 per game. Dominique Oden, a 5-8 senior guard, averages 10.7. Harris is Purdue’s leading rebounder, at 8.6 a game.
When Purdue won at Ohio State on Saturday, it was the first time earning a victory there since 2001, snapping an 11-game losing streak against the Buckeyes.
• The first 300 fans at Tuesday’s game will receive a Purdue tote bag, free of charge.
• Purdue owns a 51-20 all-time record against Wisconsin.
• Harris has finished in double figures in 10 games this season and totaled at least three blocks in nine outings.
• The Boilermakers have a record of 211-133 over the last 10 years.
• With a win on Tuesday, Purdue can notch its third straight calendar year with at least 20 victories.
• Harris is closing in on multiple career milestones. The Indianapolis native needs two defensive rebounds to break Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton’s career mark of 665. She is 46 rebounds shy of another Wisdom-Hylton record of 968. And she is 25 blocked shots from passing men’s basketball’s Joe Barry Carroll with 349.
• Oden is three points shy of joining the 1,500-point club as Purdue's 15th member.
• Harris leads the Big Ten in blocks (41) and blocks per game (3.15).
• The Boilermakers are allowing 58.7 points per game, which ranks fifth in the Big Ten.
• McLaughlin, Oden and Harris rank first, third and fourth in the Big Ten total minutes played this season.
• McLaughlin has shot 45 percent from the field and 40.5 percent from distance over the last five games with 16.6 points per outing.
• Traylor has dished out a team-high 54 helpers this season, as Purdue has assisted on 62.5 percent of its field goals.
– Purdue Athletics Communications contributed to this report.