Carl Landry took over tonights game to help his team to its 19th win of the season. His 25 points, 12 rebounds, 6 steals, 4 assists, and 3 blocks were a large reason that Purdue is still in the hunt for win #20. He was on fire when the rest of the team appeared not to be. A couple of the players had trash cans in front of them on the bench prompting some concern for the health of this team. David Teague was the most notable of those. He did not log in as many minutes as he has been, and he only had two points (on a dunk) in that time. On defense Purdue looked good last night. They forced 28 turnovers, 16 of which were on steals. A lot of the rest of the teams point contribution was on the fast break. The Boiler have one regular season game left, and that is Saturday at home against Northwestern. If they can get win #20 before the Big Ten Tournament they will have a much better shot at getting in the NCAA’s. It is still hard to believe after watching the past two seasons that we are talking NCAA Tournament, and the possibility of a 20 win season. Go Boilers!
Notre Dame got roughed up tonight in Chicago. The Lady Irish stayed just close enough to give us hope most of the game, but had a tough last few minutes to seal their fate. The Depaul players seemed inspired by senior night, and were screening very well to get people open looks. They took advantage of the open looks draining what seemed like three after three. Charel Allen the catalyst of the Notre Dame offense sat out a large portion of the first half with two fouls. When she did get back in she was hurt right away by a very rough Depaul team. She finished the game with 10 points including her 1,000th point as a Fighting Irish player. She tried to tough out her apparent knee injury in the second half, but had trouble guarding because of mobility. Freshman Ashley Barlow led all Irish scorers with a career high 21 points. When Allen had to sit out, she stepped it up. She drove to the rack to draw fouls and make something happen. Her point total would have been even higher if she would have converted some of the free throws she was given. Briana Gray had 15 points for the Irish, and Tuliyah Gaines had 14. Gaines also toughed out an injury most of the second half. It looked as if she started having trouble with her shoulder after running into a screener hard in the second half. She tried bringing the ball up the floor the next couple of possessions, but you could see that she could not use her left arm. She was taken out, and treated next to me for what looked like a shoulder separation. She was inserted back into the game a couple of times, but never did regain use of her arm. The Irish may not have only lost the game, but two of their guards left McGrath Arena with possibly damaging injuries. They also fell into a tie for fifth place in the division. Because of that tie they will be seeded 7th in the Big East Tournament. That 7th seed also gets them rematch with Depaul on Saturday in the first round.
Today the Boilermakers went into Champaign and finished out the regular season with a win. Just before the half it looked as if the score would be tied at 20 going into the intermission. Katie Gearlds hit a three pointer to give the Boilers the lead, and some momentum going into the half. They came out firing, stretching the lead to as many as 20 before an Illini run would cut the lead to ten. Once again the top scorer for Purdue was Katie. She scored 21, and is the heart of the team. She is a big reason that the team is 25-5 on the season, and 14-2 in the conference. They finished second in the conference, and will get a first round bye in the Big Ten Tournament. They will play the winner of the Wisconsin/Michigan game. If they can at least get to the title game in the tournament they will probably be a #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
I was able to attend the game as a guest of the Boilermaker Network. Every year they go on four or five road trips to Purdue Women’s games. This was their last trip of the year, and they have a good time going. These people have been going for so long that it is one big family. The players and coaches really like the support the group gives them as well. After the game coach Martin Clapp and Kiki Freeman (one of the players) boarded our bus to tell us thanks. The people were great, and it was nice not having to drive somewhere. I will go on at least one of these next year. The Network does not have a website so they are hard to pin down, but they have a table at every home women’s game.
Matee Ajavon and Essence Carson came into the Joyce Center today and ruined senior day. Ajavon scored 26 (20 in the second half), and Carson added 17 for Rutgers. Notre Dame just did not look in synch most of the game. Rutgers clamped down on Allen, and the rest of the team had trouble getting the ball in the hole. The normally pesky Notre Dame defense that forces many turnovers looked human against a ranked team. We will have to see what they do in their final game, and in the Big East Tournament. They really need to step up their game to be competitive in both the Big East Tournament, and the NCAA Tournament. The Irish had their 6 game winning streak snapped today, but look to start a new one Monday at Depaul.
Tonight Katie Gearlds and Erin Lawless played their last game in a Boilermaker uniform at home. Both of them went out on a high note. Lawless scored 18 points, grabbed a career best 13 rebounds, and had five steals. She also moved into 13th place all-time in Purdue scoring. She had one of the best nights that I have personally seen of her. Gearlds would have trouble topping the 41 points she put on Wisconsin last Sunday. She did score 28 tonight though, and also helped get the ball to her teammates. Both of them played their hearts out, and kept promising that they have 10 more games to play this season. After the turmoil of last season, and the way senior night turned out tonight was nice. Sharon Versyp the new coach became the all-time winningest first year coach with the W tonight. On a side note: Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton had four steals on the night. That moved her into fourth place all-time in Boilermaker history. The Boilermakers had 20 steals on the night, part of 27 Iowa turnovers. LWH got her game ball for her 1,000th point prior to the game. She is now part of a trio of 1,000 point scorers on the team. It is only the fourth time in school history that three players on the same team have scored 1,000 points.
Tonight Notre Dame played its second to last home game of the year against the Georgetown Hoyas. The Irish came into the game on a hot streak winning their last five games. They are also receiving votes in the AP poll. the streak continues after the Irish beat the Hoyas by 25. Notre Dame started off the game by going on a 20-2 run. They did it by pressuring the Hoyas, and causing turnovers that led to easy points. Georgetown found their stride though, and crawled back into the game. At one point they pulled to within 6 at 29-23. Notre Dame used balanced scoring to slowly pull away in the second half. Four Irish players scored in double figures tonight. They were led by Melissa D’Amico who scored 15 to go along with 7 rebounds. Most of those were inside where Georgetown could not handle her. Tulyah Gaines scored 14 with 4 steals and 4 assists. Charel Allen who has been carrying the team scored 11 with 4 assists and 3 steals. Melissa Lechlitner scored 11 four the Irish as well.
The win is the 19th for the Irish on the season. That is one more than all of last year. It also makes them 10-4 in the conference. They are in a tie for third place with Marquette. Marquette though has the tiebreaker with a win in the only meeting this year. They are only one game behind #21 Rutgers who come into the Joyce Center for the final home game on Saturday. The Irish were picked in the preseason to finish 11th in the conference, so this team is overachieving in most people’s eyes. Georgetown is only 2-12 in the conference so this is not a defining victory, but at this point in the year you will take all that you can get.