Senior games are many times tough – players thinking about other things than normal, more family and friends are in the stands – and that takes time that is spent with them, and just the sheer emotion of the last time you will play in your home arena.
Three of Purdue’s four seniors normally play very marginal minutes for the Boilermakers under new head coach Katie Geralds, who hasn’t been a Purdue employee for a year yet.
As is proper and normal, Gearlds started all four of her seniors this afternoon in their game against Wisconsin. The Boilers dug a hole early in the game and a couple of normal starters and key contributors struggled coming off the bench – most notably sophomore guard Madison Layden.
Purdue lost a one possession game for the second time this season to Wisconsin. The Boilers fought back from double digit deficits to fall to the Badgers 63-62. Wisconsin won 54-52 two weeks ago. They trailed by 12 in the first half and 14 in the second.
Purdue (16-13, 7-11) set up senior guard Rokia Doumbia for a game opening 3-point basket 20 seconds after the tip. Purdue added another bucket at the 7:44 mark of the first quarter to go up 5-2 on a layup by senior Nygoa Gony.
Wisconsin (8-20, 5-13) took the lead with 6:24 left in the first on a three by guard Brooke Schramek. The Badgers would not trail again until 13 seconds remained in regulation when Purdue guard Jeanne Terry made a layup to put Purdue up 62-61.
Wisconsin called timeout and inbounded the ball at mid-court and Halle Douglass scored on a layup with six seconds left to grab back the lead. After a Purdue timeout, they got the ball to Terry, whose shot attempt in the lane was blocked by Schramek, and the horn sounded.
Layden – who also struggled against the Badgers in Madison with four points – had one three-point basket to cap a nice 12-2 run that brought the Boilers back from 12 down to just two points with 3:32 left in the 3rd quarter. That was her only points.
Cassidy Hardin hit two threes in that quick stretch – she finished with 14 points. Abbey Ellis tied Hardin for game high honors for Purdue with a steady 14. Forward Rickie Woltman had 10 points. Layden did have six assists and three steals but was well below her 11.7 points per game average.
Wisconsin had extremely balanced scoring from their starting five. They were led by Julie Pospisilova with 19 and Douglass followed with 16 (almost 3 times her average). Two other starters had nine points and the other had eight.
Purdue struggled defensively most of the game with the Badgers back cuts to the basket, getting several nearly uncontested layups. While Wisconsin shot nearly 50% from the field in the game, the Boilers only mustered 22-64 for 34% from the field. Purdue made up some of that by forcing the Badgers into 18 turnovers in the game.
Purdue finished the B1G regular season as the 9th seed in the tournament and will meet #8 seed Michigan State at 11:30am Thursday March 3rd in Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Wisconsin is the #11 seed and will face #14 seed Illinois at 4:30 pm Wednesday March 2nd at Gainbridge.