No. 18 Purdue Hangs On to Defeat Kansas, 71-68

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Whitney Bays

PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM
Whitney Bays
PURDUESPORTSDOTCOM

Dec. 15, 2013

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LAWRENCE, Kan. - The No. 18/23 Purdue women's basketball team earned a come-from-behind, 71-68 victory at Kansas on Sunday in historic Allen Fieldhouse, improving to 7-2 on the year and 3-1 on the road this season. Senior guards Courtney Moses and KK Houser led the way for the Boilermakers as Moses scored 21, while Houser posted 14 points, eight assists and five rebounds in the win.

In a game that featured 11 ties and 10 lead changes, the Boilermakers overcame their biggest halftime deficit of the season, 33-26, and survived a very tough inside game from the Jayhawks that outscored Purdue 42-28 in the paint. The Boilermakers did most of their second-half damage from behind the arc, converting seven-of-10 from distance, and connected on 43.8 percent from the floor; up from 31.4 percent in the first half.

Kansas came out firing, going bucket-for-bucket with the Old Gold and Black early before mounting a 9-0 run to take an 18-9 advantage just inside the 13-minute mark. Junior forward Chelsea Gardner did the bulk of the early damage for the Jayhawks, scoring nine quick points en route to 17 for the game. The Boilermakers seemed to right the ship, trimming the lead to five on a layup from junior Liza Clemons, but Kansas came right back with a 7-2 spurt, keyed by freshman Keyla Morgan as she scored inside and then stepped behind the arc for three to give the Jayhawks their biggest lead of the night, 27-17, with 7:16 left in the half.

Purdue's starters were just six-for-22 from the field in the opening half, including one-for-seven from Moses and three-for-eight from Houser. Meanwhile, Kansas converted 43.3 percent (13-30), including a pair of threes, and were a perfect five-for-five at the charity stripe.

"We got after our group a bit at halftime, and they stepped up and responded," said Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp. "I challenged them to be better and knock down some shots. We had to prove that we wanted it more than they did."

The response came in a big way from Moses as she drilled two quick three-pointers, with a third coming from sophomore guard Hayden Hamby, and the Boilermakers erased the halftime deficit to tie it up at 37-37 less than four minutes into the half. The momentum swung back-and-forth the rest of the way as the second half saw eight ties and seven lead changes, with Moses taking swings for the Boilermakers and junior Asia Boyd answering time and time-again for the Jayhawks. Boyd finished with 17 points and a game-high eight rebounds for Kansas.

The Boilermakers pushed the lead to five, twice down the stretch, but each time the Jayhawks would rally as Boyd hit a big three just inside the eight-minute mark, while sophomore Lamaria Cole came up with some huge baskets, finishing at the rim after beating the Boilermakers on the perimeter. After the game's ninth tie at 63-63 on a three from Kansas senior CeCe Harper, Cole finished a layup to make it 65-63 with 2:50 to play. Purdue sophomore April Wilson answered in huge fashion, drilling a three from the left corner after a kick-out pass from Clemons to regain the Boilermakers' edge. The Jayhawks would tie the game on two more occasions, hitting a free throw from Cole and a runner from Boyd, but the Boilermakers regained the lead after both shots as Moses hit a runner of her own and junior Whitney Bays cashed in the game-winning free throw with 12 seconds left to play.

Kansas had one last shot at victory as they isolated Boyd in the final 10 seconds, but the Boilermaker defense held and Houser came up with the defensive rebound and solidified the win with a pair of free throws.

"Any win on the road is a big one," said Versyp, "especially coming off of finals week and getting ready to play three games in eight days. We've got two more non-conference games before the holiday break and we need to stay focused and try and finish the year strong."

Bays finished with 12 points and a Purdue-high seven rebounds, while Clemons had seven points, five rebounds and a pair of steals. Wilson added six points, five rebounds and two assists, and junior Camille Redmon had four points and four boards in just 10 minutes on the floor.

The Boilermakers stay on the road this week, heading to Green Bay on Wednesday to battle the Phoenix and former Big Ten head coach Kevin Borseth.