IU women’s wrap: Purdue

WHAT HAPPENED: In Indiana’s most lopsided margin of defeat in 47 games under Curt Miller, the Hoosiers missed 17 first-half shots from 4 feet or closer, shot only 25 percent from the floor and lost the Barn Burner Trophy in an 86-53 loss at Purdue.

It was the most points the Hoosiers have allowed in Miller’s tenure, paced by a 50-12 run midway through the game that sealed the game for the Boilers. Purdue out-rebounded Indiana, 52-41, scored 19 points off 17 Hoosier turnovers and dominated in the paint, where it outscored IU, 30-16. Of the 14 Indiana players who saw the floor, not one managed to score in double figures. Larryn Brooks, Alexis Gassion and Lyndsay Leikem each recorded eight points for the visitors.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Purdue’s senior backcourt of KK Houser and Courtney Moses. The two, paced by Moses’ game-high 24, combined for 46 points. For a long stretch during the second half, Moses and Houser teamed to outscore Indiana by themselves. Together, they shot 18-for-34 (53 percent) and posted 12 assists against four turnovers.

During a 17-5 run to start the second half, Moses and Houser accounted for eight of the Boilers’ points during that stretch, including a pair of 3-pointers from Houser. The two accounted for all seven of Purdue’s shots from behind the arc Friday.

“They scored off turnovers, they got in transition and KK started making 3s,” Miller said. “But we looked at our kids at halftime and said, ‘KK has the ability to shoot some of the shots we’re giving her and she didn’t take them. Please do not be fooled that we’re guarding her.’ So, someone, I’m assuming, told her at halftime, ‘KK, you’re open. Take shots. They’re not guarding you as hard as you think they are.’ To her credit, she tried to get other people involved early. KK and Moses put them on their backs in that stretch where it got ugly. Some of that was their stretch to get out and running. They’re a tremendous transition team when they get running. Ask the other 11 head coaches in the league. You can’t beat Purdue when they get out running.”

KEY STAT: Purdue’s 50-12 run over a span of 13:58 halfway through the game sealed the win.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “(Opponents are) bigger, stronger, faster. That’s why they get tired of me yelling at them. But when we’re 14-0 — included in that are two Big East wins, and ACC win and a nationally-ranked Big Ten team we beat. But we also played against teams that were smaller than us, weren’t as athletic as us and we were able to create our own shot. Now, the emphasis is so much on execution and we don’t have a great offensive team yet. Every Big Ten roster you look through, there’s a go-to player. There’s someone that you can really count on each and every night to go get you 20. We’re gonna be more points by committee and we have to execute to do that. We certainly have to make shots that are capable of being made. And that’s not happening right now. We’re not shooting a good percentage in Big Ten.”
— IU coach Curt Miller on how to diagnose the problems leading to the Hoosiers’ significant drop in field goal percentage through four conference games.

MIKE’S ‘WHAT THE HECK?’ MOMENT: Watching Purdue handle Indiana inside and outside during its 50-12 run. Wow.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: The current stretch of six games in 15 days could do some serious damage to the trajectory of Indiana’s season. I’m already curious to see what consecutive one-day preps do to the brand of basketball we’ll see Sunday during the Hoosiers’ third game in five days. I’m sure it won’t be pretty. Before leaving for Wisconsin earlier in the week, Miller made it clear that he hoped this tough span of games wouldn’t be the defining period of Indiana’s season. There are no must-win games right now, but it’s not a good look if IU falls to Minnesota Sunday and drops to 1-4 in the conference.

Then again, the 14-0 start to the season significantly raised the hopes surrounding a team that shouldn’t be expected to contend for a conference title — or even an NCAA Tournament bid, really. Not this year. What we thought might have been a team that was ahead of schedule may have been fool’s gold. The gulf in talent between the non-conference opponents — some of whom were laughable (Hi, USC Upstate!) — and the Big Ten is huge. I, and many others, went into the season expecting four, maybe five, wins during the conference season. I still believe that is a perfectly acceptable number and a figure that could still be reached. But it won’t be easy and I’m guessing, beginning now, it won’t often look pretty.

“The disappointing thing is that last year we tried to make the games ugly,” Miller said. “We tried to really slow down the game, shorten the game, make it ugly and play less possessions. Well, this year we recruited – one recruiting class, I might add – and we’ve tried to play more up-tempo. In non-conference we wanted the games up-tempo. We have to decide if we really want to play up-tempo against teams that have more weapons than us. We gotta pick our spots. When we started turning the ball over and continuing to miss shots in the second half, then that big run happened and it was over. Really over.”

If you’re an optimist, this is where it gets interesting. How does this team adjust? Do they adjust? Do they find ways to execute better and more consistently against a Big Ten schedule that will look to throw knockout punches their way at every turn? There are plenty of fascinating storylines to keep an eye on during the conference season. Friday should be a forgettable night in the middle of an unforgettable, brutal stretch of games and travel. But it’s also a reminder to temper expectations. This team was never supposed to be the one to put Indiana basketball on the national radar. Of course, with a memorable non-conference run, it did just that. But the real season is just beginning and, at least for one more year, try to take the wins with the losses and enjoy the ride.

2 comments

  1. We all knew that when the conference started that the road would be much tougher! This very young team will continue to struggle, especially on the road. This 3 games in 5 days schedule that we were confronted with due to the rescheduled Purdue game is brutal especially with 2 of the games being on the road! Playing at Purdue in front of over 8,000 screaming fans is tough for a veteran team even if they would have had sufficient prep time.
    It should be stated that this team is extremely young and growing each day. Lessons learned from last night’s game will make this team stronger in the future. Now is not the time to give up on these young women. If ever a team needs the fans support more than ever, Sundays game against Minnesota is it! A large boisterous crowd could be a huge factor to help bring these young women to victory against a good Gopher team! Don’t let this rough stretch detour your following this team in any way. The price of admission Sunday is $1, how can you pass that up? Go Hoosiers!

  2. You can’t win them all and it only counts as one L! Go IU Women, the next game is an opportunity!

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