It was electric from the start.
With the biggest crowd of the season, and highest attendance for a women’s game since the 2011-12 season at 5,564, the Hoosiers fed off the energy and knocked off Purdue for a third time this season, 73-51.
IU Coach Teri Moren said after the game that a young man came up to her and said he had goosebumps the entire time and thought it sounded like a men’s game in The Hall.
Even though the attendance was lower than a men’s game, at times it was louder than some of the games the men played this season.
“That’s probably one of the loudest and the best crowds we’ve had in The Hall,” Moren said. “And we’ve had some really good ones, but that one tonight was special.”
Senior guard Tyra Buss, who finished with a game-high 24 points, said it was an amazing crowd that gave them a lot of energy.
The crowd doesn’t get all the credit, though. The Hoosiers came out firing from the start as Buss pushed the ball in transition and got her team easy layup after easy layup. There was a stretch where on three-straight possessions, Buss pushed the ball and scored the first time and assisted the next two, scoring in under seven seconds each time. This forced a Purdue timeout as IU led 15-6.
“I thought our posts and other guards that rebound did a really good job of kicking it out to me and we started running,” Buss said. “Those transitions points are really important, and I think that got us even more excited.”
According to Buss, it was the defensive end of the floor that helped the Hoosiers get out and run.
IU forced four Boilermaker turnovers in the first quarter and scored 10 points off the fast break to take a 23-16 lead heading into the second quarter.
In the second 10 minutes, Purdue looked as if it was going to put a halt to IU’s run-and-gun style as it got back quicker on defense and switched to a zone. The Hoosiers added no more fast break points in the second quarter and with 2:29 left in the half, Purdue cut the lead to three.
That was until Buss and the other guards, freshmen Jaelynn Penn and Bendu Yeaney, began to attack the holes in the Boilermaker zone.
“We knew there were going to be some holes we could attack,” Buss said. “It just a matter of making the right decision once we got in the paint.”
To close out the half, Yeaney got into the paint and kicked it out to Penn for a 3-pointer. On the next possession, Yeaney again got inside the paint and this time found Buss for a 3-pointer to push IU’s lead back up to seven heading into the half, 38-31.
The third quarter was where IU began to run away with the game. Purdue Coach Sharon Versyp said her team got out-hustled by the Hoosiers in that quarter. In the quarter’s final 4:15 seconds, IU allowed no Boilermaker baskets and went on an 11-0 run to take a 20-point lead into the final frame.
“We just try to take other teams' tendencies away,” Moren said. “My staff does a great job of watching film and preparing our players and our kids have a good feel as to how they can be successful.”
The Hoosiers held Purdue to 28.57 percent shooting from the field and from 3-point range in the second half.
The next highest Hoosier scorer after Buss was Penn, who finished with 16 points. Penn is averaging 19 points per game in the three games of the WNIT thus far, after averaging 11 points per game in the regular season.
Junior forward Kym Royster had an efficient night from the field as she shot a perfect 6-6 and finished with 12 points. Purdue is known for its shot blocking in the paint, so Royster was patient with her post moves, shot faking and pivoting multiple times to elude the defender for an easy two.
“We really emphasized how big and athletic they are down low,” Royster said. “We just practiced ball faking and taking our time.”
Even though senior forward Amanda Cahill had a quiet night with four points, she came up with seven rebounds and three blocks, not allowing Purdue’s post players to get any easy baskets.
Yeaney marks the other starter for the Hoosiers and she finished with 10 points.
Next up, IU will play in the final eight of the WNIT for the second-straight season. It was at this point last season when the Hoosiers got eliminated by Villanova. This year, IU awaits the winner of UC Davis and Kansas State, who will play Friday at 7 p.m.
IU has preached since the start of the tournament that it’s a six-game series and it is now halfway there. Moren and Buss both said they hope for a similar turnout for Sunday’s game at 2 p.m.
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