Keys leads Purdue women to 72-58 win over Illinois

Photo Courtesy: Purdue Sports

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — Junior Andreona Keys poured in a career-high 26 points to lead the Purdue women’s basketball team to a 72-58 win in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Fieldhouse on Thursday. The fifth-seeded Boilermakers improved to 20-11 on the year with the win and advance to meet fourth-seeded archrival Indiana in the quarterfinals tomorrow at 2:30 p.m. ET.

The Boilermakers got off to a quick start against the Fighting Illini, using a 12-2 run to take a 15-4 lead over the first six minutes and finishing the first quarter with a 20-8 edge. Keys did the bulk of the work with seven quick points, while senior Bridget Perry and freshman Ae’Rianna Harris added five each. Harris did an excellent job protecting the rim early, rejecting three shots in the period and grabbing three quick boards.

The Fighting Illini rallied in the second quarter, wiping away the entire Boilermaker lead and evening the score at 25-25 with 1:21 left in the half. Purdue made just two-of-12 from the field to start the second, but senior Ashley Morrissette rallied with five straight points in the final minute to give Purdue a 30-25 edge at the break.

The third quarter played even between the two sides as Purdue hit 56.3 percent from the floor and committed just one turnover, while Illinois got its 3-point game working, hitting three triples, and converted four offensive boards into eight second-chance points. However, it would be all Keys and the Boilermakers in the fourth as she opened the quarter with seven straight points and pushed Purdue’s lead out to 12, 55-43 in the first 2:25.

Keys scored 13 in the fourth and final quarter, hitting four-of-four from the field and four-of-four at the free throw line, while Perry added a scoring bump with five points and two assists down the stretch. Freshman Lamina Cooper was great on the defensive end all night, but shined especially bright in the final 10 minutes, locking up Illinois point guard Brandi Beasley and holding her scoreless in the fourth quarter with three turnovers.

The win makes Purdue the first team in the conference to reach 40 Big Ten Tournament wins, and gives head coach Sharon Versyp her 20th tournament victory. Tomorrow’s meeting will be the eighth all-time between Purdue and Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament, with the Boilermakers holding a 5-2 series edge. The last meeting was a 66-62 Purdue win in the first round in Indianapolis in 2011, where Brittany Rayburn scored 23 and Drey Mingo added 21 in the win.

Tomorrow’s game will air live on the Big Ten Network and begin 25 minutes after the conclusion of No. 1 seed Ohio State and No. 9 seed Northwestern, which begins at noon.