WBB Devils Incarnate Word, 95-27
San Antonio is home to many things: the Alamo, the River Walk, a couple of neat bowl wins, the Spurs ... and the University of the Incarnate Word. The Cardinals moved up to Division I in 2013, and as you might expect, they are barely treading water, like most bottom-tier DI schools. Their men's team turned in a pretty decent performance, falling by 35 in November to the Good Guys. However, while parity in women's basketball has definitely arrived at the top of the division (well, except for UConn), the bottom is a different story - the weakest DI teams regularly get blown out by P5 teams, and tonight was no exception, as the hapless Cardinals dressed only 9 players and played as if only 4 were on the court, losing by 68 in a game that wasn't as close as the score might suggest. Let's put it this way: you know the thing the band does where they count down the shot clock for the opponents, only they're two seconds fast? They tricked the Cardinals into shooting two seconds early ... three times. What we can say about the Cardinals is that they hit the boards well, pulling in 15 offensive rebounds - .333 isn't bad at that end, unless you compare it to the .450 Purdue recorded (9 offensive vs. 11 defensive for the Word). Other than that ... ugh. Brianna Williams hit her average, leading the Cardinals with 12 points, but it took her 16 shots to get there, and she was the only Cardinal in double figures. Quincy Baker was 1-15, Aricka Adams (second on the team at 11.0 ppg) 2-9, Katelynn Johnson 1-7. The Cardinals shot .164 from the field, had a 1-5 assist-to-turnover ratio (5 assists on their 9 baskets), and ... well, they didn't quit.
The Boilers took reasonable advantage of their overmatched opponents, jumping out to a 15-2 lead despite three turnovers in that stretch, and holding the Cardinals to 2 points in the second quarter. Late in the third, they widened their lead to 50, and by the fourth quarter, the only questions remaining were a) when would Abby Abel make her Purdue debut and b) would she score? The answers turned out to be a) with 3:00 remaining, to the delight of those of us who stuck around for the whole game (I'll be honest, at this point I was busy placing my Insomnia order so I could pick it up after the game), and b) no. As is usually the case, any time a walk-on gets into the game (which is rare this season, as the Boilers rarely have garbage time), everyone wants to see them score. In this case, "everyone" meant the bench, the other 4 players on the court, the entire crowd (if the Cardinals brought any fans, I didn't see them), even the coaching staff (I swear we saw Versyp motioning at Hayden Hamby as if to say "in the corner! Get her the ball!") ... everyone except Abel herself, who did a fine job in her three minutes despite recording a 3-trillion (she would have had an assist but someone fumbled her pass). Part of it was likely wanting to earn more court time, and part of it may have been that you don't necessarily want everyone cheering a bucket that gives your team a 70-point lead.
We might as well go through some more numbers first, and then I can add a few thoughts of my own. NUMBERS PLZ:
- The Good Gals had 39 points off UIW turnovers; the Cardinals managed 3. Oddly, those points came on consecutive possessions, with a basket following a Justine Hall turnover and a free throw after a Dominique McBryde turnover. Incidentally, that was the only time all game the Cardinals scored on consecutive possessions without an intervening Purdue score.
- Purdue also had massive advantages in paint points (40-4), fast break points (17-0), and bench points (54-2). Yes, the Word used nine players, but only Jordan Franks managed to score off the bench: the subs were 0-8 from the field.
- Ashley Morrissette and Bree Horrocks led the Boilers with 15; McBryde and Hamby added 12 and Hall scored 11, with Bridget Perry and April Wilson stuck on 9. Horrocks was 7-7 from the field, as she finally got a game where the Boilers figured out how to keep feeding here without littles getting their hands on the ball. Morrissette did her one better, tying a team record by going 5-5 from outside the arc.
- Horrocks scored all 15 in the fourth quarter; she not only outscored the Cardinals 15-7 in the quarter, but posted more points in the quarter than they did in any one quarter ... and nearly as many as they had in a half. (18 in the second half sounds really bad until you compare it to 9.)
- Wilson just missed a double-double, recording 10 assists to go with her 9 points. Andreona Keys added 7, and McBryde and Perry had 4 dimes apiece. Yes, it's easy to feed your teammates in a game you win by 68, but it's also possible to have a bunch of unassisted layups, and only 6 Boiler FGs were unassisted. I doubt much of this will carry over, but it was nice for a change to see the offense running smoothly.
- Perry and Torrie Thornton had 3 steals each, which I think understates Thornton's defensive play. Once she saw that the Cardinals didn't have an effective post, she was much more aggressive on defense, picking up steals on back-to-back plays late in the second quarter.
- Hall played really well tonight on both ends in what was likely her longest outing of the season. The one area where both she and McBryde struggled was on entry passes, trying too many times to thread the needle to Horrocks, Thornton or Kiesler. Seven of Purdue's fifteen turnovers came from those two players.
OK, fine, you caught me, that's analysis. Let us continue:
- Hall's contributions moving forward may become more important, because it turns out that Tiara Murphy isn't in Versyp's doghouse. Murphy was wearing a walking boot on her left foot and did not participate in warmups. (She was, however, standing on the sideline, looking for all the world like a kid who'd been grounded while her friends got to go outside and play. Not sure how much of that was a freshman wanting so badly not to be hurt; why else would she be standing?) That could explain her struggles to stay upright in the last two games she played in, plus Versyp's decision to yank her right after her last fall. Being downgraded from a brace to a boot is a bad sign, although I guess an ankle injury isn't as bad as a knee injury ... unless it's a high-ankle sprain. There doesn't appear to be much info on her injury, so for now all I guess I wouldn't expect to see her until after Christmas.
- The Boilers were careless on possessions in addition to the post-entry problems; obviously those errors didn't hurt them today, but it does seem to be an ongoing problem. Purdue's going to be close to a 1:1 ratio of assists to turnovers; they came in at 0.96 to 1, which was 90th in DI and 9th in the Big 14. As a team, you want to be closer to 1.5:1, and that's going to require a lot more care with the basketball.
- You'll notice that fast-break points weren't off the charts, and again, that was a passing problem. Several breaks ended up in turnovers because Purdue was either too eager to push the ball or not accurate enough when they did. Having said that, they had a number of breaks that looked really, really good, and of course 39 points off turnovers is a really good way to make that defense pay off.
- Both Horrocks and Nora Kiesler committed silly fouls in the paint. Kiesler picked up 4 in just 6 minutes of play, which is just a sign of a freshman adjusting to a new level of ball. I suspect after a year of conference play, Kiesler won't be committing those fouls.
- Perry did a great job attacking the basket; 9 and 8 in just 17 minutes, plus 3 blocks and 3 steals with 1 foul and 0 turnovers. Once again, she was probably Purdue's best all-around player.
- 10 of 15 is probably not repeatable against conference competition, but it sure did open up the inside game. Hamby was 3 of 5 and Wilson was 2 of 3; those players will have to continue to find their outside shot so that the offense doesn't revert to the slow-perimeter-passing stuff that plagued them the last few games. (I will say this: the Cardinals did a great job reversing the ball against the zone the few times Purdue employed it. Unfortunately, they couldn't hit the open shots they created.)
Incarnate Word heads south to play Texas Tech next, while the Boilers prepare for another 2 PM Sunday game, this time against Ball State. What's the record for most different Cardinals defeated in a season? I'm guessing three is probably close.
Feature image from Purdue Sports. You should really go check out the gallery from tonight; there are about four shots I would have liked to use, but they didn't ask us to caption all the photos (although I would!) and as long as we're a silent partner we try to be respectful of the time and effort they put into these pics.