WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — Purdue junior Ae'Rianna Harris knocked down a free throw with 0.8 seconds left on the clock to secure a 66-65, come-from-behind victory over visiting Harvard at Mackey Arena on Sunday, wrapping up one of the most impressive individual performances in her career. The preseason All-Big Ten forward finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds to accrue her 10th career double-double and first of the season as the Boilermakers improved to 2-0 and won their home opener for the 42nd time in 44 seasons.
Despite trailing for more than 34 minutes of regulation, the Boilermakers buckled down when they needed to, getting clutch points from Harris, classmate Dominique Oden and sophomore Karissa McLaughlin in the final two minutes to edge out the Crimson. Tied 60-60 with under two minutes to play, Oden ripped the ball away from a Harvard player under the Boilermakers' bucket and drew a foul to get to the line and put two free throws home.
Harvard responded with a clutch 3-pointer, late in the shot clock to reclaim the lead 63-62, but McLaughlin would answer right back, taking a feed from sophomore teammate Tamara Farquhar on the right wing and drilling her second triple of the game to give the Boilermakers a two-point cushion 65-63.
The ensuing possession was incredible as Purdue pushed the Crimson late in the shot clock and Farquhar turned up the pressure. She pressed Harvard senior Nani Redford and forced a loose ball that rolled all the way back to the end line, but Redford managed to scoop it up and hurl a baseball pass the length of the floor to wide-open sophomore Jadyn Bush for a lay up to tie the score again at 65-65.
The Boilermakers held for the last shot and found McLaughlin on the right side for a 3-point attempt. The deep shot was wide left, but Harris soared through the air for her 14th rebound and was fouled on the put-back attempt to earn the final difference at the line. Harvard had one last shot, but Harris stole the inbound pass to seal the win.
Harvard did the bulk of their damage in the opening quarter, hitting on 61.5 percent, including four 3's to take a 23-10 advantage. It was a team effort for the Crimson as six different players scored, while Purdue mustered just 3-of-15 from the field and turned the ball over six times.
The Boilermakers rallied in the second quarter behind McLaughlin, who scored 10 of her 17 points in the frame, hitting 4-of-5 from the floor, including a 3-pointer and an and-one finish at the free throw line. They whittled the Crimson advantage to just four points at the half, 38-34, as McLaughlin's burst all came in the final four minutes and she assisted on a 3-pointer from sophomore Lyndsey Whilby to have a hand in all 13 of the final points of the half.
Harvard stretched its lead back out as high as nine in the third, but Harris and Whilby kept the Boilermakers in it, tallying six and five points, respectively, in the quarter. Whilby's buckets came in succession, knifing a 47-38 Crimson advantage to 47-43, and then a pair of Harris buckets pulled Purdue within two in the final minute. Farquhar finished the frame with a pair of free throws, getting fouled in a slick feed from McLaughlin and the teams went to the final quarter tied at 53-53.
Purdue started the fourth quarter 1-for-9 from the field, allowing Harvard to creep back out in front, but locked down when they needed to and found a way back out in front at the end. Harris was joined in double figures by McLaughlin and Oden as McLaughlin added six assists and two rebounds to her 17 points, while Oden tallied 15 points, three steals and two assists. Whilby finished with eight points and three rebounds, while Farquhar chipped in five points and nine rebounds.
Junior Katie Benzan paced Harvard with 16 points, hitting four 3's, while Redford finished with 12 points, five assists and three boards. Bush had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds, and junior Jeannie Boehm added four blocked shots for the Crimson, which fell to 0-2 with the loss.
Purdue looks to defend home court again Thursday, welcoming Western Illinois to Mackey Arena for a 7 p.m. ET tip
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