Purdue knocks off No. 9 Ohio State 71-60 in Big Ten semis

Photo Courtesy: Purdue Sports

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — The fifth-seeded Purdue women’s basketball team continued its chase for another Big Ten Tournament title Saturday, knocking off top-seeded and ninth-ranked Ohio State at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, 71-60. The Boilermakers advance to the Big Ten Tournament championship game for the 14th time in the 23-year history of the event, where they are set to face No. 2 seed Maryland tomorrow at 7 p.m. ET.

The Boilermakers put on a defensive showcase Saturday, holding the nation’s No. 3 scoring offense to a season-low 60 points and 34.2 percent from the floor as they beat their first top-10 opponent since 2012, a 68-66 win over No. 9 Penn State at the Big Ten Tournament. Purdue held 2017 Big Ten Player of the Year Kelsey Mitchell to nine points on three-of-22 shooting, including one-of-12 from 3-point range, marking just the second single-digit scoring effort of her career. The Boilermakers surrendered just nine points in the second quarter on three-of-18 shooting, and 11 points in the third quarter on four-of-15. Purdue won the rebounding battle as well against the Buckeyes, 45-42, despite surrendering 21 offensive rebounds to Ohio State.

On the other end it was the backcourt duo of senior Ashley Morrissette and freshman Dominique Oden that led the way for the Boilermakers, combining for 44 points and hitting seven 3’s in the win. Morrissette posted 24 points and seven assists, while Oden poured in 20 points with four triples, hitting 50 percent from the field. Oden broke the Boilermakers’ freshman 3-point record, hitting her 55th of the year and taking down Courtney Moses’ mark from 2013-14. The Boilermakers hit season-high marks from behind the arc and at the free throw line, knocking down eight-of-11 from distance (.727) and 21-of-23 at the charity stripe (.913), overcoming 20 turnovers for the third time this season.

After an early run from Ohio State that saw the Buckeyes hit four of their first five shots from the field, the Boilermakers settled in and got ready for battle in a first half that saw 11 ties and nine lead changes. The back-and-forth battle swung the Boilermakers’ direction in the last minute and a half of the 2nd quarter as Oden drained back-to-back 3’s, ending a five-minute scoring drought and giving Purdue a five-point edge at halftime.

Purdue picked up where it left off coming out of the locker room, opening on an 8-0 run and holding Ohio State for 6:25 without a field goal as they opened up a 49-34 lead and owned a 53-42 edge at the end of the third quarter. Ohio State ramped up the pressure in the fourth quarter, forcing a series of turnovers and cutting Purdue’s lead to five, 58-53, with 3:50 left, but Morrissette came through, handled the press and guided the Boilermakers down the stretch. The senior point guard showed poise in the final minutes, hitting at the free throw line and finding teammates for layups as Purdue stretched the lead back out to double-figures, while coming up with a series of stops on defense.

Senior Bridget Perry was the third Boilermaker in double figures, adding 11 points and a team-high eight rebounds as Purdue improved to 22-11 on the season.

Senior Shayla Cooper paced Ohio State with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while junior Linnae Harper added 12 points and seven points. The Buckeyes fell to 26-6 with the loss and await an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament and potential top-16 seeding.

Tomorrow’s game will air live on ESPN2 as Purdue chases its 10th conference tournament title and fifth under head coach Sharon Versyp. Versyp is 22-7 all-time in the Big Ten Tournament, good for the most career wins by a coach in tournament history, and led the Boilermakers to titles in 2007, 2008, 2012 and 2013.