WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Purdue Sports) — Sophomore Dominique Oden put together another outstanding performance Wednesday, scoring 25 points to lead the Purdue women’s basketball team to a 64-51 victory over visiting Illinois at Mackey Arena. The Boilermakers improved to 18-11 overall and 9-6 in conference play with the win, remaining in contention for a top-six seed in next week’s Big Ten Tournament.
After a slow start Oden got things cooking in the second quarter, hitting all three of her attempts from the floor and a pair at the line to give her 10 points heading into the half. She picked up right where she left off in the second half, going into takeover mode with 10 points on 4-of-6 shooting and hitting the 20-point mark with 10 minutes to play. The third-quarter stretch was especially clutch as she held off a hot-shooting run from Illinois and maintained the Boilermakers’ lead going to the fourth and final quarter.
Oden dropped her only 3-point field goal of the game in the fourth quarter, and got a couple more at the free throw line to finish off her fifth 20-point scoring effort of the year, and guide her squad to their ninth conference win of the season. Senior Andreona Keys and freshman Karissa McLaughlin joined Oden in double figures, scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively, while McLaughlin matched a career high with seven rebounds and dished out six assists. McLaughlin becomes the sixth freshman in program history to dish out 100 assists in her rookie campaign and is tied for fifth on the rookie record list with Courtney Moses. Keys chipped in four rebounds and knocked down 8-of-10 at the free throw line, marking a career-best effort at the charity stripe.
Sophomore Ae’Rianna Harris made another big-time mark on the second-year player record lists at Purdue, surpassing Stacey Lovelace with her 254th rebound of the season. Lovelace’s sophomore season record has stood since 1994, and Harris is poised to break the per game average record as well, snaring 8.8 per game on the year after grabbing 12 Wednesday. Harris has already smashed the sophomore blocked shots record with 89 this season, including three against Illinois, the second-most by a Boilermaker in a season in school history.
After the lead changed hands seven times in the first quarter Wednesday, a putback by junior Nora Kiesler at the end of the first period gave the Boilermakers the lead for good, stretching it as high as 16 points in the fourth quarter. The Boilermakers hit on 21-of-28 at the free throw line, taking full advantage of 22 Illinois fouls, and won for just the fifth time this season when being outscored in the paint (18-20). Purdue outrebounded the Illini 42-31, including 13 offensive boards, improving to 7-1 in Big Ten play when beating their opponents on the glass.
Junior Alex Wittinger paced Illinois with 16 points and 13 rebounds, as the Fighting Illini drop to 9-20 overall and 0-15 in Big Ten play. Sophomore Cierra Rice was their only other player in double figures with 12 points.
Purdue plays its final regular season game Saturday, hosting Michigan State for a 2 p.m. ET tip, live on the Big Ten Network. It marks the final home game for Keys, who has appeared in 127 games in her Boilermaker career, including 104 starts which is tied for ninth-most by any player in program history. The Boilermakers will hold a postgame ceremony for Keys and the other seniors surrounding the program.