Jan. 5, 2012
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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -
KK Houser did it all against Wisconsin.
The Purdue guard scored 17 points and played shutdown defense against Wisconsin's Taylor Wurtz to help No. 18 Purdue beat Wisconsin 63-52 on Thursday night.
Houser also had five steals and four assists as the Boilermakers (13-3, 3-0 Big Ten) won their sixth straight game.
She also was the primary defender against Wurtz. One of the conference's top scorers at 16.1 points per game, Wurtz was held scoreless on 0-for-10 shooting. She had reached double figures in every game this season.
Houser seemed more fired up about her defense than her points. She knew she would match up against Wurtz and looked forward to the challenge.
"I was excited," she said. "I always like guarding one of the best players. Just deny out, make her beat me off the dribble, or backdoor of she's going to. Just stay up on her and pressure, and I had help from all over. I had confidence that my team had my back."
Wisconsin coach Bobbie Kelsey said it was something Wurtz would have to learn from.
"Teams are not going to just let her get loose," Kelsey said. "They were very physical. They did a good job of knocking her off her route. Taylor's got to learn to stop and go. She has a motor, and sometimes it races, and it needs to hum a little bit. She needs to slow down and read it."
Sam Ostarello had 12 points and 13 rebounds and Antionette Howard added 12 points for the Boilermakers, who entered the night tied with Ohio State and Nebraska for the Big Ten lead.
Anya Covington tied a career high with 19 points and Jade Davis added 10 for the Badgers (4-11, 0-3), who lost their sixth straight game overall and their fourth straight against a ranked opponent.
The Badgers had won three straight against Purdue and swept the Boilermakers last season.
Purdue shot 57 percent in the first half to lead 36-25 at the break. Houser had 11 points, four steals and three assists in the opening 20 minutes while Wurtz missed all seven of her field-goal attempts.
"We had high percentage shots, and I think that was the big key," Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said.
Purdue continued its strong shooting early in the second half. Baskets by Ostarello and Brittany Rayburn and two free throws by Ostarello pushed the lead to 42-29. A basket by Ostarello a few minutes later increased the advantage to 16.
The game turned when Alex Guyton was called for a flagrant foul for elbowing Wisconsin's Cassie Rochel in the face. Purdue led 47-32 at that point, but Wisconsin rallied.
"When you're double teamed, you have to lead with your elbow and you (the official) have to decide if it's all one motion, or if it's an elbow and go," Versyp said. "They just felt like because it was over Alex's head, that's what they needed to call. I'm not upset with her. She just made a basketball play. You obviously feel bad for the other person because her nose could be broken."
Kelsey said it changed the game. Covington scored six points in a run that cut Purdue's lead to single digits. Covington's three-point play and Davis' layup trimmed the Boilermakers' advantage to 50-44.
"She didn't mean to do it," Kelsey said. "I don't think it was a malicious play, but anytime someone hits your sister, you better be trying to come on back with something. We kind of got hit there. All of us felt like we got hit when she got hit."
Purdue led 54-47 before holding the Badgers scoreless for more than 6 minutes to put the game out of reach.
"We just continued to try to faceguard all their guards and not let them get backdoor, trying to let their post players have to touch the basketball and have to make decisions the most," Versyp said.
Versyp didn't like the fact that Wisconsin drew so close.
"We were kind of stagnant in the second half," she said. "We were playing a lot of fullcourt defense, and we'll have to adjust that and slow it down in the second half."