Last night started off so awesome. If you had told me one week ago that Drey Mingo would have taken the court with her team I would have told you that you were crazy. After being hospitalized with meningitis last week she was given a fifty-fifty chance to make it through. Her recovery has been amazing, and it was a great moment last night when the team walked arm in arm onto the court with Drey in the lead with Antoinette Howard and Chantel Poston. It was a great moment. Looking at the faces of some of the Purdue fans around me I would say that it was emotional as well. The ovation that she was given was one of the best that I can remember. Once again the band got involved and made signs for Drey much like they did with KK Houser. The Gold Mine which was a little bigger last night also had signs for the Junior.
The Boilers came out fired up to start the game. They were playing great defense forcing turnovers early. They couldn’t get it going on offense though. It took almost four minutes for the Boilers to score their first basket of the game. they kept in the ball game though with tough defense and the play of Courtney Moses. In the first half Moses was awesome on defense. She was a menace constantly in the face of whomever was bringing the ball down the court.She hit a three late in the first half to give Purdue the lead. After Maryland tied the game up she fed Alex Guyton down low for a layup as time expired in the half to give the Boilers a two point lead at the break.
The Boilermakers should not have been that close at the break though. They had leads of 19-13 and 21-15 before letting Maryland take a 23-22 lead. This team has its moments where they look great to take a lead. Then for some reason the wheels seem to fall off. The Boilers had 11 turnovers in the first half, but were lucky in the fact that Maryland committed 16 turnovers in the half as well. A quick pace and sloppy play led to most of the turnovers. Good ball pressure also was a factor.
The second half started with another appearance from Drey Mingo. She stayed the entire second half watching her team from the bench. It was awesome to see Drey and her number 24 sitting on the bench laughing with her teammates. I don’t think that I can say enough about how great it was to see Drey on the bench.
The Boilers looked good most of the second half. They had a 53-42 lead at one point, and looked to be heading for the upset. The team was fired up, and all they had to do was finish the game. They only scored two points during the last six minutes or so of the game. Maryland seemed to just want it more at the end of the game. The girls played so hard for their teammate early that I wonder if they just ran out of gas at the end of the game. Courtney Moses who was on track to be the player of the game had a few bad turnovers late, but most of those were from trying to do too much. Moses is young, and you can see that she has the presence to really be something before she leaves Purdue. These games right now are a learning experience for her.
The Boilers had 24 turnovers on the game. That is not a good sign for your team. What makes it even harder to take it the fact that Maryland had 27 turnovers on the night. It was an ugly game that the Boilers could have easily won. I thought that they were lucky to be in it in the first half, but once they took control in the second half all they had to do was play somewhat solid to win. As I said I think that they just had nothing left in the tank at the end. They laid it all on the court.
After a Maryland basket with just under a minute left gave the Terrapins the lead Purdue turned the ball over. It looked as if they gave the game away as well. They never gave up though and forced a turnover with 8.9 seconds left to have one chance to win the game. Freshman Courtney Moses took the ball to the hoop, but was stuffed. The ball caromed to Sam Ostarello who also was stuffed. Two chances at the end to score, but the Maryland defense was too much. Moses appeared to be fouled, but no foul was called. The picture I took at the time shows that the defense was all over her, but you can’t say that the game was lost on that one play. It really should never have gotten that far. After that last scramble under the basket I was shocked. I have been at some bad losses, but this one might have hurt the most. I think all of the pregame emotion had a lot to do with the post game emotion. You would have loved to see the Boilers pull one out for their teammate. That of course did not happen. Drey is winning the most important battle right now though.
Ashley Wilson made her season debut last night. I really enjoy watching her play. When she comes in the game it is usually instant offense. There is not too much that she is afraid of. She produced on both sides of the court last night. Watching her on the court with Antoinette Howard is a treat. At one point Howard grabbed a rebound, brought the ball up the floor, and then fed Wilson with a great pass for a basket. I would bet that is not a play that they practice during the week. Both of these girls can really disrupt the other team though. It should be fun watching these two play alongside each other this season.
Player of the game: At one point in the game I knew that this was easily Courtney Moses for sure. The late Maryland run led me to change my player. Lynetta Kizer scored twenty points and pulled down eight rebounds on the night. Her presence down low changed the Purdue strategy as well. She was part of the six blocks that Maryland had on the night.
Play of the game: This has to be the entire frantic last minute of the game. Maryland scores a basket with just under a minute to go. They force a turnover, but then turn the ball over themselves with 8.9 seconds on the clock. The two blocks under the basket preserved the lead for Maryland. It may not have turned out how I wanted to, but it was the deciding series of the game.