PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The Purdue women's basketball team dropped its Big Ten Conference opener Thursday, falling at Rutgers 58-50. The Boilermakers fought tooth-and-nail the whole way in a game that saw six ties and 11 lead changes, but the final one went the Scarlet Knights' way in the final four minutes as Purdue falls to 9-6 overall, while Rutgers improved to 13-2.
The Boilermakers led early at the RAC, holding Rutgers to 3-for-19 shooting in the first quarter and leading 14-9 after late buckets from freshman Karissa McLaughlin and sophomore Lamina Cooper. Action went back-and-forth in the second, as back-to-back triples from Rutgers' Nigia Green put the Scarlet Knights up by six, 22-16, but 3-pointers from sophomore Dominique Oden and McLaughlin in the last few minutes gave Purdue a 28-27 halftime edge.
Rutgers used an early run to hold the lead for almost the entire third quarter, getting an early barrage from senior Tyler Scaife, who finished with a game-high 23 points. Senior Andreona Keys kept things close in the closing seconds of the period, completing an and-one finish to make it a two-point game heading to the final quarter.
Someone turned the A/C in the RAC way up as they went to the fourth quarter, opening a combined 0-for-13 as four Purdue free throws gave the Boilermakers a 46-45 lead with 5:15 to play. Rutgers first bucket came in timely fashion as they grabbed consecutive offensive rebounds to extend a possession and then beat the shot clock with a long jumper from junior Khadasizha Sanders to take the lead for good. The Boilermakers' simply couldn't find the bucket down the stretch, making just one in the fourth quarter and fouling late to make the final difference look bigger than the closeness of the game was.
McLaughlin and Keys led the Boilermakers with 13 points apiece, both grabbing five rebounds, while Keys added three assists and two steals. Cooper had nine points, five rebounds and three steals and sophomore Ae'Rianna Harris had six points, nine rebounds and tied a career high with seven blocked shots.
Purdue continues Big Ten Conference play Sunday, hosting Wisconsin for a 2 p.m. tip in Mackey Arena.