WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — Sophomore Ae'Rianna Harris posted a monster game Monday, collecting 20 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks to lead the Purdue women's basketball team to a 60-58 victory over visiting UT Martin in the second day of the Basketball Traveler's Inc. Invitational at Mackey Arena. Harris made numerous jaw-dropping moves throughout the victory, hitting on 8-of-9 from the floor to help the Boilermakers improve to 8-5 on the season.
Monday's see-saw battle saw eight ties and eight lead changes, as the momentum went back-and-forth all game. The Boilermakers were ice-cold from the field early, hitting on only five of their first 17 attempts from the floor, and combined that with 12 first-half turnovers to allow the Skyhawks to hold on to a 26-25 halftime lead.
The Boilermakers heated up in the third quarter for the second straight game, hitting on 10-of-13 (.769) in the frame to regain the lead. Senior Andreona Keys knocked down back-to-back 3's and freshman Karissa McLaughlin followed up with one of her own, pushing the lead as high as eight for the Old Gold & Black, but UT Martin refused to go quietly.
Sophomore standout Kendall Spray had 12 second-half points, hitting six 3's for the game for UT Martin, and sparked the Skyhawks to erase the Boilermaker lead and take a 55-52 lead over Purdue with 78:32 to play. However Purdue would rally one last time, getting key buckets from Harris and McLaughlin down the stretch to retake the lead and Keys drained 1-of-2 free throws with 16 seconds left to put the Boilermakers ahead by the final margin. The Skyhawks had one last chance as senior Janekia Mason tried a 3-pointer with time expiring, but Harris got her hand in front of it, falling short and sealing the win.
Harris's team-best fifth double-double of the season makes her tied for the second-most in a season by a sophomore in program history, one shy of the mark set by Danielle McCulley in 1994-95. Harris also cracked the Boilermakers' career top-10 in blocked shots, surpassing Kay Tucker and moving up to 115 in her 49th game. Joining Harris in double figures was Keys, McLaughlin and sophomore Dominique Oden, posting 11, 11 and 10, respectively. Keys added six rebounds and three assists, while McLaughlin had five assists and a key steal in the final minutes. Oden struggled in the first half shooting, but was solid late, hitting on 3-of-5 in the second half and adding four rebounds and four assists, a few of which came in spectacular fashion on lobs to Harris.
Spray finished with 18 to lead UT Martin, which falls to 4-7 with the loss. Mason had 15 points and eight rebounds, while freshman Maddie Waldrop had 13 points and seven boards.
Purdue wraps up the BTI Invitational on Wednesday, playing Saint Mary's at 1:30 p.m. for the tournament title.
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