Yesterday”s Purdue-Michigan game decided the Big Ten champion, but not in the way many expected it to at the beginnin gof the year.
The seventh-ranked Boilermakers claimed at least a share of the conference title after an 84-73 victory at Crisler Arena yesterday. Each team was a preseason favorite to win the conference crown, but the Wolverines have not lived up to the expectations, currently in ninth-place with just two games remaining before the Big Ten Tournament.
Shereka Wright set a Purdue record with 40 points and shot 71 percent from the field. Just five of her points came from outside the paint. Kelly Komara added 11 for Purdue (12-3 Big Ten, 21-4 overall).
Alayne Ingram”s 24 points led Michigan (5-9 Big Ten, 15-10 overall).
The Wolverines led by four at the break and had just seven turnovers in the first half. But they turned the ball over nine times in the first nine minutes of the second half.
After the Wolverines extended their lead to eight at the beginning of the second half, the Boilermakers went on a 20-6 run. Guard Kelly Komara led the charge with five steals and six points during the run. During the game, she set a Purdue record for steals in a season (102). Ingram, who turned the ball over four times in the second half, was victimized by Komara.
“I let (Komara) take the ball from me,” Ingram said. “I say “I let her” because I dribbled the ball very lackadaisically, and that is just something I can”t do.”
Michigan finally ended its 6:30 scoring drought when Ingram hit a 3-pointer to pull the Wolverines within five with 10 minutes remaining.
LeeAnn Bies had to leave the game because of a dislocated left pinky finger with eight minutes left and Michigan trailing by seven.
The Wolverines found themselves down by five when Wright hit a 3-pointer right in front of her team”s bench to give the Boilermakers a 75-67 advantage with 3:22 remaining. She scored seven more points to finish the game and the Wolverines.
Both teams were on fire in the first half. Michigan shot 52 percent from the field en route to a 42-38 lead at the break, while Purdue shot 47 percent. Ingram and Bies led the Wolverines with 12 points apiece, while Tabitha Pool added nine.
After Purdue jumped out to an early four-point lead, Ingram hit a 3-pointer from well beyond the arc to put Michigan ahead, 17-15, with 12 minutes left in the half. Michigan did not relinquish the lead the rest of the half and led Purdue by as many as eight points.
“I thought we did pretty good for (the first) 25 minutes,” Michigan coach Sue Guevara said.
“We came out of the lockerroom (in the second half) and scored, got an (eight-point) lead, and then Purdue picked up their defense.”
A speech by coach Kristy Curry helped spark Purdue”s intensity.
“I”m usually their number No. 1, but I told them I was embarrassed and I think that got to their hearts a little bit,” Curry said.
She gave the players credit for the comeback, calling it “self-imposed” pressure.
Michigan finished the game with 20 turnovers, a week after turning the ball over 25 times against similar defensive pressure from Ohio State. How does Guevara plan to change that?
“(I will) probably run their tails off.”