WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — The ninth-seeded Purdue women's basketball team rode a stellar first half and held off a late four-quarter run to win its Big Ten Conference Tournament opener against No. 8 Michigan State 72-63 on Thursday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Boilermakers punched their ticket to the quarterfinals with a quartet of players in double figures.
Ae'Rianna Harris came out firing on both ends of the court in her final Big Ten Tournament opener. The senior notched her eighth double-double of the year with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The Indianapolis native also broke the program record for blocks in a tournament game with seven rejections.
Fatou Diagne recorded her first career double-double on 11 points and a game-high 12 rebounds. Dominique Oden tacked on 15 points on 7-of-10 shooting.
The Boilermakers (18-13) spread the wealth all game with 20 assists on 27 made field goals, tying the season high. Karissa McLaughlin was three dimes short of her first career double-double to finish with seven assists and a game-high 17 points, including a trio of 3-pointers.
Purdue shot 44.3% from the field for the game, while holding the Spartans (16-14) below 30% for the first three quarters.
The Boilermakers used an early 12-2 run to open a 16-6 lead in the first quarter. Purdue built the advantage to as many as 14 in the second quarter, behind a 45.2% shooting clip and five 3-pointers. On the defensive end and hampered by six first-half rejections by Harris, Michigan State shot just 22.9% from the field.
Out of the break, Purdue maintained its healthy advantage through the third to take a 15-point lead into the final frame. Michigan State roared back in the fourth 25 points, but the Boilermakers never let the Spartans pull closer than six in the final three minutes.
BLOCK PARTY IN INDY
Harris added more records to her illustrious haul. The senior's seven rejections set a new single-game record at Purdue. Her blocks total was the second-most in a Big Ten Tournament game, four shy of Amanda Zahui B.'s mark for Minnesota in 2015.
Head coach Sharon Versyp after the game….
First 10 minutes we really keyed in. We were just due to really connect and play well, and we wanted to get the ball inside immediately, and we did -- our first, probably eight points, (we) got inside, so that just really elevated the confidence. So that's what we wanted to do. The three things was transition defense, get the ball inside as much as we can, and then get three stops, and I thought all those three things worked out very well for a good three and a half quarters.
On the number of assists…
That was big. We finished the game 20 assists on 27 field goals. And when we share the basketball inside-outside, not trying to do a lot of one-on-one stuff -- we're not a one-on-one team, but I think building that confidence, having Karissa really start out hot and having Ae'Rianna start out hot, that kind of just built the confidence. But that's what we talk about is building confidence in the defense.
• Purdue is now 42-34 against Michigan State, including a 5-1 mark in the Big Ten Conference Tournament.
• The Boilermakers have reached the quarterfinals for the four time in the last five seasons.
• The Boilermakers are 45-16 all-time at the Big Ten Conference Tournament, the most wins by a program at the conference tournament.
• Dominique Oden broke the Katie Gearlds minutes played record during the game, surpassing 4,475 minutes of action. The senior also tied Erika Valek's record for career starts with 130.
• Both clubs committed 13 turnovers, but Purdue converted the giveaways into 17 points compared to seven for Michigan State.
• After giving up an average of 56 points in the paint over the last two outings, the Boilermakers bounced back to scored 34 points down low to the Spartans' 28.
• Purdue connected on five triples for the second game in a row.
• Harris blocked more than five shots in a game for the 18th time in her career.
• Harris and Diagne marked the second time this season that Purdue had a pair of players finish with double-doubles.
The Boilermakers will square off with the No. 1 seed Maryland on Friday at noon in the quarterfinals.