WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — After nearly eight months of limbo, the Purdue women's basketball team quickly knocked off the rust to open its 2020-21 campaign with an 80-69 win over North Alabama on Sunday night at Mackey Arena. Senior Tamara Farquhar, junior Kayana Traylor and freshman Ra Shaya Kyle powered the Boilermakers with 19, 18 and 17 points, respectively.
The Boilermakers (1-0) shot 39.7% from the field and put nine of their ten players in the scoring column, including four in double figures.
Facing a Lions (0-3) squad that was playing their third game of the season, the Boilermakers shrugged off a timid opening to the game to open a five-point lead after the first quarter. Faquhar found her stride in the second period with seven points to extend the advantage to nine at the break.
Purdue responded out of the break with a nine-point swing, four from Jenelle Grant, to take a 46-36 lead in the third. Kyle, in her first game as a Boilermaker, later put the game out of reach early in the fourth quarter with an 8-2 run of her own, which took the gap to its largest extent at 19 points. The Boilermakers posted a 50% shooting clip over the final 20 minutes and tallied 15 points off eight North Alabama turnovers.
Sunday night marked the anticipated debuts of the 2020 signing class of Kyle and Madison Layden, as well as junior transfer Brooke Moore. Kyle set the standard high with 16 points on 5-of-9 shooting, nine rebounds and a steal. The rookie out of Marion's stat line was made even more impressive by the fact she played less than eight minutes.
Moore ended her debut with four points, three rebounds a trio of assists and a steal in 23 minutes of work. Layden, coming back from injury, managed only one point, but the 2020 Indiana Gatorade Player of the Year racked up three assists, five rebounds and a game-best plus-minus of 16.
WELCOME, BACK TAM
Farquhar's first game back from a devastating injury that ended her 2019-20 campaign in January was a display of dominance. The senior captain nearly notched a double-double of 19 points, nine boards, two assists and one steal. Farquhar knocked down five of her six free throw attempts and played just a hair over 28 minutes on the night.
Much of Farquhar's rehab can be attributed to associate director of Sports Medicine Jessica Lipsett. The pair worked together several times a week during the spring and early stages when Farquhar remained in West Lafayette.
Head coach Sharon Versyp after the game …
We're really excited. We have different offenses and styles that allow us to spread out and attack as much as we can. We had a couple players struggle who haven't struggled in practice shooting the ball. To not shoot the ball exceptionally well, and to still put up 80 points, is a very exciting thing.
Head coach Sharon Versyp on having Farquhar back in the lineup …
Tam is the glue to our team. She has been ever since she's been here. I was just so happy for her. She's practiced more this year than she has in the past few years prior to the season. She was a little emotional after the game. Just being able to get through it and do what she did, realizing that it was a long process, just shows that all her sacrifices paid off.
Tamara Farquhar on her first game back …
It was really nice to finally be able to get back on the court again. It was a long process for rehab. Getting through that and getting through practice was a long time, so I couldn't wait to play. It was nice to get a win in our first game. I didn't really have any nerves. I was a little worried that I didn't have any nerves, but I was just ready to play again.
Kayana Traylor on Farquhar's return…
It means everything that she's back. She's a game-changer for us. She brings so much energy. She does all the little things for us. It was really nice to have her back. Obviously, her play tonight was a huge help. I think she did everything well tonight. She does all the little things very well. She rebounds, scores and plays great defense.
• Purdue leads the all-time series with North Alabama 1-0.
• Kyle 16 points were the most in a debut since Karissa McLaughlin's 21 against Central Michigan in 2017-18.
• The Boilermakers scored 26 points in the fourth quarter, which eclipsed any fourth-quarter scoring last season.
• Despite shooting just 1-of-13 from outside, Purdue knocked down 21-of-31 free throws, the most since 23 freebies against South Carolina on Dec. 16, 2018.
• Ajah Stallings earned her first career start in the win. The Indianapolis native brought in three boards and recorded two steals.
• Purdue has scored at least 75 points in three of the last four season openers.
• The Boilermakers are now 38-8 all-time in season openers and 27-0 when opening at home.
• Head coach Sharon Versyp pulled within five victories of joining the 300-win club at Purdue.
• All 10 players who checked into the game pulled down at least one rebound.
The Boilermakers will welcome Miami University on Thursday night to Mackey Arena for a 6 p.m. tip on BTN+.