Indiana Women’s Basketball Can Complete Its First Three Game Sweep of Purdue

The Indiana Hoosiers (19-14) host the Purdue Boilermaker (20-13) on Thursday night in the Sweet 16 round of the Women’s NIT.  The game will tip-off at 7:00 PM EST at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.  You can view the official WNIT bracket here.

The Hoosiers and Boilermakers will play for the third time this season.  For the first time since 1984-85, IU swept the season series with wins on January 6 in Bloomington (72-54) and February 12 at West Lafayette (52-44).  Indiana will have a chance to do something it has never done before — complete a three game season sweep over Purdue.  The Boilers accomplished the feat once in 2011.

Season sweeps and looking back to the 1980’s brings to mind a different era of Indiana women’s basketball, and a time during which the Indiana and Purdue rivalry took on an entirely different complexion.

Seeing as how Purdue owns a 54-31 all-time series advantage, it might be difficult to imagine a time when IU dominated the series.  But that is exactly how it was back in the infancy of the rivalry from 1975 to 1986.  During that time Indiana won 18 out of 20 games against Purdue and at one point the Hoosiers won 14 in a row over their in-state rival.

The 1976-76 Indiana women’s team. Bea Gorton is top left. Photo Credit – IU Archives

Under the guidance of IU Hall of Fame head coach Bea Gorton and her successors, Joy Malchodi and Maryalyce Jeremiah, Indiana compiled a record of 223-147 and secured a conference title in 1983.  Collectively the three were a nightmare for the Boilermakers.

It was Gorton that got it all started for the Hoosiers.  Literally.  She was Indiana’s first women’s basketball varsity head coach, leading the program from 1972 to 1976.  During that time she compiled an overall record of 79-28 (.738), which is good for the top winning percentage in school history.  Gorton also led IU to the Elite Eight of the AIAW national tournament in 1972 and 1974, and an AIAW Final Four appearance in 1973.  She was inducted into the IU Hall of Fame in 2014.

You can see Coach Gorton’s Hall of Fame speech here.  Her tenure at Indiana began around the same time as another IU legend – Bob Knight.  She makes reference to him and their working relationship in the speech.

Interestingly enough, the tide in the series started to turn around the same time that a familiar face showed up in West Lafayette.  Teri Moren led Seymour High School to four sectional titles, two regional championships, a semi-state win and a 1987 state finals appearance.  After graduating from Seymour in 1987, the Indiana All-Star went to play for Purdue and their new head coach Lin Dunn.

Teri Moren at Purdue. Credit – Purdue University

At Purdue, Moren was part of three NCAA Tournament teams and Purdue’s first Big Ten championship.  At that point the series with Indiana turned decidedly in the Boilers’ favor.  It has only been recently, under Moren’s leadership, that Indiana has started to win with any degree of regularity against Purdue.  Since she took over the IU program in the 2014-15, Moren owns a 4-3 record against her alma mater prior to Thursday night’s game.

Is this the beginning of another era of IU dominance over their in-state rival?  Only time will tell, but a three-game sweep to end Purdue’s season would certainly be a good way to get things started.

Interested in more of the history of the Indiana women’s basketball program?  Here is an depth look produced by Indiana University:

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Main photo credit – Ty Vinson/IDS