IU women’s basketball might be on the winning side of recent history in its rivalry series with Purdue, but head coach Teri Moren said the team’s in-state foes have improved since they last met on the hardwood.
The Boilermakers lead the all-time series 55-35 despite losing the last three contests by a combined 52 points. This year, however, Moren expects former teammate and Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp’s squad to test IU.
“It’s not that they are hard to prepare for, you just run out of time,” Moren said. “They do a lot of different things offensively and it’s hard to prepare for all of them.”
Because the Boilermakers run so many different sets with viable scoring options throughout their rotation, Moren said her defense must be ready to recognize certain “actions” Purdue relies on to get their playmakers open.
Sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes and junior forward Aleksa Gulbe will be tasked with containing 6-foot-4-inch senior center Fatou Diagne near the basket, but IU also has to be cognizant of kick-outs to Purdue’s shooters along the perimeter. Five different Boilermakers are shooting better than 30% from 3-point territory so far this season.
Purdue also added two transfers, juniors Brooke Moore and Rokia Doumbia, from the Southeastern Conference to bolster its guard depth. Moore, an Auburn University transfer, is second on the team in scoring with 11.1 points per game and Doumbia, a University of Arkansas transfer, has played in four games off the bench.
“Their transfers have obviously given them a kid that can drive it, another kid that likes the mid-range game and can provide some scoring from the outside,” Moren said. “There’s more balance — they’re trying to get scoring from different positions on the floor.”
Like Purdue, IU will also lean on a transfer who’s new to this rivalry series.
With senior guard Jaelynn Penn still sidelined, senior Nicole Cardaño-Hillary has stepped into the lineup and developed nicely for the Hoosiers. Her presence alone has taken pressure off senior guard Ali Patberg, who is averaging 22.5 points per game since her new backcourt partner entered the starting lineup.
This isn’t an entirely new role to Cardaño-Hillary, the all-time leading scorer at George Mason University, but her ability to take on added responsibilities while dealing with a swollen eye says a lot about her work ethic and competitiveness.
“She hasn’t batted an eye, we put her in the lineup even at Penn State and she really only had the one good eye,” Moren said. “She was ready and eager — there wasn’t much that was gonna keep her from participating, nonetheless starting.”
Moren said Penn received good news Monday that there was no structural damage in her ankle which she injured in the loss to Maryland on Jan. 4, but it will be about two weeks before can suit up and play again.
Despite their 5-4 overall mark and 2-3 start to Big Ten play, the Boilermakers are better than their record reflects. Purdue nearly upset a ranked Michigan State team on Jan. 3 and is as tough on their homecourt as anyone else in the conference.
“This league is unforgiving, no matter if you’re projected at the top of it or the middle or the bottom, it doesn’t matter,” Moren said. “At the end of the day, it’s still a team in the Big Ten that’s on our schedule that we have to go to their place, and we have to play them really well to beat them.”
IU and Purdue tip off at 4 p.m. Thursday at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana. The game will broadcasted on Big Ten Network.