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Purdue (9-5/0-0) vs. Northwestern (12-2/1-0)
Saturday, Dec. 31, 2016 / 3 p.m. ET / BTN Plus
Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) / Evanston, Ill.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue women’s basketball team opens the 35th season of Big Ten Conference play Saturday, heading to Northwestern to face the Wildcats at Welsh-Ryan Arena at 3 p.m. ET. The Boilermakers open the conference season on the road for the fifth consecutive season, and play Northwestern in their Big Ten opener for the first time ever.
Purdue enters conference play at 9-5 overall, coming off a loss to IUPUI at Mackey Arena before the holiday break. The Boilermakers have been paced by opposite ends of the roster, with strong performances from their seniors and freshman, while the sophomore and junior classes have been hampered by injuries.
Seniors Ashley Morrissette and Bridget Perry are combining for a solid 24.5 points per game, both averaging double figures. Morrissette averages a team-best 14.4 points per game in addition to career-high marks of 4.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 2.1 steals per game. She aims to follow in former teammate April Wilson’s footsteps to lead the team in scoring, assists and steals, after Wilson was the first Boilermaker to achieve the feat since Katie Douglas. Perry had a slow start to the season, but has come on strong, pushing her scoring average to 10.1 points per game and adding 5.4 rebounds and 1.8 steals per contest.
On the freshman side, rookies Dominique Oden and Ae’Rianna Harris are emerging as two of the Big Ten’s best, making major impacts on each end of the floor. Oden has been named Big Ten Freshman of the Year on two occasions and averages 11.5 points per game, good for second on the team. She’s led the Boilermakers in scoring on five occasions this season, including a career-best 23 points vs. Wichita State at the Cancun Challenge. Harris is a force on the defensive end, pulling down 5.0 rebounds and denying 1.7 shots in 19.1 minutes per game. Over the last five games those numbers jump to 6.8 rebounds and 3.0 blocks per game, in addition to 8.2 points and a 51.4 shooting percentage.
The Boilermakers have taken big hits in the junior and sophomore classes as junior Bree Horrocks and sophomore Tiara Murphy are out for the remainder of 2016-17 with knee injuries. Horrocks played just two games before going on the shelf, while Murphy sustained her malady in the ninth game of the season.
The Big Ten season drops to 16 games after playing 18 in 2014-15 and 2015-16, with the Boilermakers playing a home-and-away series with Northwestern, Michigan State and Penn State. Purdue opens and closes the conference season with the Wildcats, hosting them for senior day February 26.
LAST TIME OUT
• The Boilermakers saw a six-game win streak snapped with a 67-62 home loss to IUPUI
• The loss was Purdue’s first of the season when dishing out at least 14 assists in a game
• Purdue had five players score in double figures for the first time since Jan. 7, 2016 at Northwestern, in an 85-71 victory
• IUPUI outrebounded the Boilermakers 39-35, becoming just the fourth team to beat Purdue on the boards this season and dropping the Boilermakers to 1-3 on the year when getting outrebounded
• Purdue had 21 second-chance points off of 18 offensive rebounds
• Dominique Oden led the team in scoring for the fifth time this season, pouring in 17 points on 7-of-12 shooting and hitting 3-of-3 from behind the arc
HEAD COACH Sharon Versyp
• In her 11th year as the Boilermakers’ head coach, giving her the longest tenure of any coach in program history
• Winningest Purdue women’s basketball head coach, earning 223 to date and 340 for her career, and second in program history in Big Ten Conference wins with 101
• Purdue’s eight NCAA Tournament appearances under Versyp are the most under any head coach in program history
• Starred for the Boilermakers from 1985-88, scoring the 13th-most points in program history and was the fourth-fastest player at Purdue to reach 1,000-career points (77 games)
• One-of-2 Big Ten head coaches to lead her alma mater (Amy Williams, Nebraska)
• One-of-2 former Boilermakers to serve as a head coach for a Big Ten team (Teri Moren, Indiana)
• Purdue ranks second in the conference and 27th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 54.3 points per game
• The Boilermakers lead the Big Ten and are 31st in the NCAA in fewest fouls per game, committing only 14.4 per contest
• Purdue has scored 30+ points in the paint in 11 of its last 12 games
• The Boilermaker freshmen are averaging a combined 21.4 points per game, accounting for 32.7 percent of the Boilermakers’ scoring
• Saturday marks the fifth straight season the Boilermakers have opened Big Ten play on the road (c/o Mike Carmin, Lafayette Journal & Courier)
• Purdue is 22-13 all-time in Big Ten openers, including a 10-8 mark on the road
• Saturday’s game is the first-ever Big Ten opener for the Boilermakers’ against Northwestern
• Northwestern and Purdue rank first and second, respectively, in the Big Ten in turnovers per game, averaging 12.8 and 13.4 per game
• Northwestern enters Saturday at 12-2 overall and 1-0 in Big Ten play after a 62-58 win at Nebraska on Wednesday
• The Wildcats feature one of the nation’s top players in senior Nia Coffey, who ranks among the nation’s best in scoring and rebounding
• Coffey leads the Big Ten and ranks third in the nation at 11.9 rebounds per game, and is third in conference and 16th in the nation at 20.6 points per game
• Fellow senior Ashley Deary leads the Big Ten in assists (6.5) and steals (4.54) per game, and ranks 18th and fourth nationally in each category, respectively
• Purdue leads the all-time series against the Wildcats 46-21, including a 21-14 mark at Welsh-Ryan Arena