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WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue women's basketball team bounced back in strong fashion Wednesday, knocking off 21st-ranked Rutgers at Mackey Arena 47-33. The Boilermakers halted an 11-game win streak for the Scarlet Knights, dealing them their first Big Ten. loss of the season as Purdue improved to 11-7 overall and 2-2 in conference play.
Rutgers was the Boilermakers first ranked opponent this season, entering the AP poll this week for the first time of the season at No. 21, and Purdue wasted no time earning its first victory over a ranked foe. It marks the 27th win over a ranked opponent for head coach Sharon Versyp at Purdue, and the Boilermakers' first at home since knocking off No. 16 Nebraska, 82-66, on March 2, 2014.
The Boilermakers made things happen with their defense Wednesday, holding the Scarlet Knights to a season-low scoring total and 36 points under their season average (69.7). Purdue held Rutgers to four points in the first quarter and six in the second, marking the lowest scoring half for an opponent since limiting North Carolina Central to 10 in the second half last season in Mackey. The Boilermakers limited the Scarlet Knights to 26.8 percent shooting (15-56), including a 1-for-20 clip from 3-point range, while committing only seven fouls for the game, matching the seventh-lowest single-game total in program history. Individually, Purdue held preseason All-Big Ten honoree Tyler Scaife to a season-low nine points on 4-of-15 shooting, while forcing her to commit five turnovers.
Purdue locked down the Scarlet Knights in the first half, holding them to 5-of-24 shooting, while forcing eight turnovers. Things were slow-going for the Boilermakers on offense as well early, but got things rolling due to a huge first-half lift from freshman Tamara Farquhar. The rookie hit all three of her shots from the floor in the opening frame, heading to the locker room with eight points and five rebounds to lead the Boilermakers to a 25-10 halftime edge.
The Boilermakers held off an early second-half rally from the Scarlet Knights, who scored six straight to start the third quarter, and locked in the rest of the frame to allow just two more Rutgers buckets over the last 7:40. Purdue's only two 3-point field goals of the game came in the third, both in dramatic fashion as sophomore Ae'Rianna Harris beat the shot clock and drained her first career triple, and senior Andreona Keys edged out the 30-second clock again three minutes later. Keys followed up the shot with an old-fashioned three-point play, hauling in a Harris block and going coast-to-coast for the foul and the finish, making it 36-20 going to the final quarter.
Rutgers rallied again, opening the fourth with an 8-2 run to cut it to 10, 40-30, but the Boilermaker defense dug in and maintained a solid margin. Purdue got a few solid transition buckets and made free throws down the stretch to seal the victory, the Boilermakers' fifth straight at home.
Harris led all scorers with 13 points, adding eight rebounds and three blocks to pace the Boilermakers. Keys stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals, while Farquhar finished with eight points and seven boards. Freshman Karissa McLaughlin struggled from the field, but found other ways to chip in, dishing five assists and grabbing a career-high seven rebounds, and sophomore Dominique Oden snared a career-most four steals.
Rutgers moves to 16-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play with the loss, ending the seventh-longest active win streak in the country.
Purdue aims to knock off its second straight ranked opponent Saturday, traveling to Iowa City, Iowa to meet No. 18 Iowa at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The game will tip at 4 p.m. ET and air live on the Big Ten Network.
-- Purdue Women's Bball (@PurdueWBB) January 11, 2018