WBB Overcomes Refs, Flyers as Versyp Wins 200th
For the second time in four days, the women's team faced an opponent with experienced, effective bigs that threatened to expose the gap Purdue has between experience and effectiveness at the five. Unlike Thursday's loss to Boston College, Sunday's game featured timely changes, strong post defense and clutch fourth-quarter shooting by the Good Gals, as they fought off a strong Dayton team and three striped objects vaguely resembling officials, 61-58, giving Sharon Versyp her 200th win as Purdue head coach. (She's just 6 wins behind Lin Dunn for the all-time program lead, although it should be noted that Dunn's record is 206-68 and Versyp is 200-110.) Just like on Thursday, the Boilers started off on the wrong foot, but this time it wasn't so much scheme as officiating. Dayton is a very physical team (305th in fouls committed entering the game), and they wasted no time getting to work, setting screens on the perimeter that Bob Knight* would have been proud of. The Flyers quickly ran out to a 12-7 lead, and it looked like Purdue would spend another four quarters chasing their opponents.
However, this time Versyp made an immediate adjustment: the bigs began hedging on screens as the perimeter defenders came over the top, and suddenly Dayton had to start working for shots instead of getting open twos and threes. The lid on the basket from Thursday was still somewhat there, so Dayton ended the first quarter with a one-point lead.
A combination of the defensive change and Purdue's natural pressure began to wear on the Flyers, and over the next two quarters they committed five unforced turnovers (in the fourth, the capper was a perfect pass to head coach Jim Jabir, which is fine if you're finishing a drill but not so good in a game), two of which fueled a 9-0 run that put Purdue up 22-17 near the four-minute mark. After a Dayton bucket, Ashley Morrissette converted a four-point play, and each side added another two to give the Boilers a 28-21 halftime lead. The Flyers managed just 7 second-quarter points - in part due to some missed calls that went Purdue's way - and looked quite unlike the team Massey had at #9 on Sunday.
For as well as Purdue's played defensively so far this season, their offense has had difficulty in virtually every game, in part due to pushing the ball when there are no opportunities in transition, and in part due to being unable to solve a zone defense. Both problems came back in force in the third, as Dayton took less than six minutes to erase the Purdue lead, taking advantage of ill-advised outlet passes (one in particular that I think would have been a reasonable play in dodgeball, but perhaps not so good in basketball) and the mismatch that Dayton had created inside. 6'5" Saicha Grant-Allen chased Torrie Thornton to the bench early (Thornton would eventually foul out - good job, refs), and freshman Nora Kiesler wasn't able to provide the same kind of impact that Thornton can give against smaller forwards. Kiesler hasn't yet had enough experience against talented players her size, so when she'd get the ball inside, 6'4" Jodie Cornelie-Sigmundova would come over to help, and Kiesler would be stuck: she's not yet strong enough to split a tall doubleteam, and Purdue doesn't run its offense well enough to break that double through quick passes. (In fact, sometimes the Boiler providing the entry pass would become unavailable - at that point you could call the turnover or blocked shot without even looking.)
However, the Good Gals did get some good baseline passing going, and that plus some timely rebounding by Bridget Perry kept Purdue close enough that a couple of ridiculous fouls didn't let the Flyers pull away; an April Wilson jumper cut the lead to one, 44-43 after three. (OK, yeah, at this point it does seem like the same game, doesn't it?)
After an early three by Dayton put the Flyers up four, Sauron's Eye turned their way, and a series of offensive fouls offset a series of missed shots by the Good Gals, who missed their first seven shots in the quarter before Wilson hit a three to cut the lead back to one. A steal by Wilson with an and-one gave the Boilers a two-point lead, and another Wilson steal plus a three-point play by Dominique McBryde put Purdue up five, their largest lead of the second half. Sauron then turned the other direction and decreed that Thornton had committed her fifth foul; in response, it was Hayden Hamby's turn to hit from outside, and the Boilers were up six and looking to put the game away.
Sauron would have none of it, though, and Dayton ran off six straight points to tie the game at 55. (Mind you, some of this was because Purdue insisted on driving into the forest and throwing up shots into the trees. Refs can be blamed for not calling obvious fouls, but can't be blamed when you make poor decisions.) With Amber Deane at the line shooting two, Versyp cleverly put in McBryde for Perry, who at this point had 7 points and 13 boards, so that ... I don't know, honestly. Is it a coaching thing to take your hottest player out at a key moment in the game? (Offense-for-defense is one thing, but this was different.) Deane missed the first (Dayton's first miss of the game) and hit the second, putting the Flyers up one, so Versyp called a timeout to get the ball at halfcourt and promptly reinserted Perry, who of course couldn't go back in because no time had elapsed yet. So she spent the next possession watching as Morrissette put the Boilers up one; Perry came in after the Dayton timeout, promptly corralled the rebound on Deane's missed shot, and split a pair at the line. Dayton caught the Boilers on a switch, forcing Morrissette to foul Grant-Allen, and the junior split her free throws, leaving the Good Gals up one. Perry was fouled on the inbounds pass, splitting her free throws, and then after Purdue lost the board, Perry stole the ball from Cornelie-Sigmundova and hit both free throws to ice the game.
Well, except that the refs weren't done yet. Andreona Keys "fouled" Jenna Burdette, who did the make/miss you'd expect down four, but the Flyers couldn't get a good putback, and Purdue came away with the 61-58 win.
Other things of note:
- With Erica Moore gone and Tiara Murphy apparently in the doghouse (or maybe they still haven't got her shoes that don't slip), Justine Hall got some early minutes and made the most of them, getting a basket and a steal in six minutes. It's worth noting that while Purdue starts a three-guard lineup, they don't go two-deep at each of those positions, so with Abby Abel apparently in line for a redshirt, Hall and Murphy are the only ones left to split minutes that aren't shared among the top four. That could be an issue come Big 14 season.
- Purdue's inability to attack a zone (other than when Keys has the ball) is really starting to be a problem. Cornelie-Sigmundova had 6 blocks, mostly from guards basically shooting into her. The baseline passing was the second time this season I'd seen someone other than Keys do something to beat a zone; the other time was in the BC game, when Purdue methodically drove across the zone on one possession to create an open shot. Naturally, they didn't do that again.
- Perry finished with 11 points, including a three she took because SOMEONE HAS TO SHOOT FROM OUTSIDE TO OPEN UP THE ZONE, 14 boards (6 offensive), and 3 steals. It says something about the team that Perry now leads them in rebounding, with Keys close behind her (55 to 44).
- For all the open perimeter looks Dayton had, they still only shot 5 of 17 from behind the arc; I may not have expressed how much better Purdue's outside defense was this game, but it was really good. Dayton was also 14 for 39 inside the arc - the only thing keeping them around was rank incompetence by the officiating crew. The lone guy on the crew was so bad, I expect he'll be doing the men's NCAA tournament this year. On one play, Dayton tipped a Purdue pass out of bounds right in front of him, so naturally he gave the ball to Dayton. If the other two refs hadn't overruled him, I think the ensuing chorus of boos would have coalesced over his head and squished him like a guard under an uncalled charging center.
- Keys was uncharacteristically quiet, 0-5 from the field (but 4-6 from the line). That was mostly Dayton's bigs shutting down her driving game - credit to them for scouting Keys and taking that away.
- For as much heat as the athletic department gets here - deservedly so - they deserve credit where credit is due. Today they did a Frozen promo, where kids could make snowmen and do karaoke to songs from the movie, and the halftime show was the Winter Sisters singing. This is one of those times where a promotion and its target audience aligned perfectly.
Dayton goes home to face Gonzaga next, while the Boilers welcome Incarnate Word on Thursday. Yes, it's Cardinals Week on the WBB side of Mackey - Ball State comes to town Sunday, and as you already know from November, the Word is the Bird**.
Feature image from Purdue Sports
*for those who don't remember, at Knight's apex, his teams would set screens as if the screener were a rod-hockey player. Once he no longer commanded officials' respect, sometimes his players actually had to come to a stop when setting a screen.
**it's not that often I can make a pop culture reference to the '60s, '80s and '10s simultaneously. Now we just need to find someone to explain the '60s and '80s to all you kids out there.