In their first meeting back in early January, Indiana shot 58% from the field in a dominant win over Purdue in Bloomington. From the outset on Monday night, it was clear that the Boilers weren’t going to tolerate that kind of offensive efficiency from the Hoosiers. This time around in West Lafayette the Boilers held IU to 37.7% shooting and blocked eight Hoosier shots.
The problem for Purdue on this night was that Indiana’s defense was even better. The Hoosiers aren’t necessarily known for their defense, ranking last in the Big Ten and 320th nationally in field goal percentage defense. But on this night, IU was locked in, holding Purdue to 29.8% from the field.
Behind that inspired defensive effort IU pulled off the season sweep of Purdue. After winning 72-54 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on January 6th, the Hoosiers beat Purdue again on Monday night at Mackey Arena 52-44. It was Indiana’s first win at Mackey since 2008 and their first season sweep of Purdue since 1984-85.
Indiana has now won six games in a row. That is head coach Teri Moren’s longest conference winning streak during her tenure leading the IU program. Indiana improves to 14-12 overall and 7-6 in Big Ten play and retains a glimmer of hope for making the NCAA tournament. This quality win over an RPI top 50 team will certainly help that cause.
Things certainly didn’t get off to a good start for IU. The Hoosiers were only 2 of 17 from the field in the first quarter. Purdue wasn’t much better, but behind freshman guard Karissa McLaughlin the Boilers ran out to a 14-5 lead. McLaughlin, who was last year’s Miss Indiana, accounted for herself better after a poor showing in Bloomington last month.
A major reason for the slow start was that Indiana kept forcing the action around the basket against Purdue’s shot blockers, including Ae’Rianna Harris who had 4 blocks on the night, all in the first half.
Indiana reeled off a 10-0 run to start the 2nd quarter as the Hoosiers clawed back into it behind their defense. Despite getting very little in the way of scoring from senior leaders Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill in the first half, IU was able to tie the game at 22 at the half. Purdue turnovers were a big part of the reason why the Hoosiers were able to stay in it despite shooting only 30% in the half.
Indiana started to find itself towards the end of the 3rd quarter. Rather than continuing to try to shoot over Purdue’s shot blockers, the Hoosiers began to attack them with dribble drives to the rim. This drew the shot blockers towards the dribble penetration which Indiana countered with a series of pocket passes to its front court players left open at the basket.
Hoosier guards Jaelynn Penn and Buss combined for 5 second half assists as they attacked with the dribble and found open teammates. The result was a significant improvement from the field in the 2nd half as the Hoosiers shot 48% in the second segment. Indiana also took good care of the ball throughout the game, only committing eight turnovers on the night.
Cahill led the way for IU with 16 points and 11 rebounds while Buss added 13 on a rough shooting night.
But it was really all about IU’s defense on this night. Indiana was solid in both halves. It was a common occurrence for the Purdue home crowd to be counting down the shot clock for its team. That was because Indiana was very effective at keeping Purdue’s offense stuck out on the perimeter most of the night. When Purdue did try to get to the rim, IU was there with 9 steals and 6 blocks. Buss had 5 steals on her own, showing that even when a senior star has an off shooting night there are other ways to lead a team to victory.
Maybe this new defensive identity is the start of something? Indiana is certainly going to need it if they want to play deep into March. They have three conference games remaining, all against teams in the top half of the league. Saturday is going to be a special senior day in Bloomington for Buss and Cahill against Nebraska. From there the Hoosiers will close it out against Minnesota and Iowa on the road.
NOTES: Purdue came into the game ranked 28th nationally, shooting 45.3% from the field but were limited to 29.8%. The Boilers were scoring 67.1 points per game on the season and they were held 23 under their average on the night.
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Photo credits: Purdue University