Valparaiso gave #23 Purdue all it could handle for nearly 35 minutes but Purdue finished the game on an 18-3 run to defeat the Crusaders 70-55 on Sunday afternoon at Hoopla: A Celebration of Women's Basketball held in Fort Wayne, Ind.
The Crusaders led by 13 points early in the second half but an 18-3 Purdue run over the final five minutes proved to be the difference.
The Boilermakers jumped in front quickly, scoring the game's first five points and led throughout the first part of the opening stanza as they made five of their first seven shots from the floor.
An 8-0 run by the Brown and Gold put the Crusaders in front as the Valpo defense stiffened, holding Purdue scoreless for over five minutes. Betsy Rietema (Grand Rapids, Mich./Christian H.S.) gave Valpo the lead 14-13 with 9:58 to play, and moments later Carrie Myers (Stickleyville, Va./Lee H.S.) drained a three to push the lead to four, 19-15.
After Purdue cut the lead to two, Lauren Bechtold (Hebron, Ind./Hebron H.S.) stepped up and buried a three from the right wing. Mayella Kuikhoven (Almelo, Netherland/Saint Canisius H.S.) then made a steal and fed Bechtold for a lay-in to make in a seven-point lead with 5:25 left in the first half. Valpo's defense held the Boilermakers to just 2-of-12 shooting during the run.
Purdue made a run to close within four before Valpo pushed the advantage again. Tamra Braun (Savage, Minn./Prior Lake H.S.) scored inside and Myers drained another three. A Rietema hoop with 1:07 left in the half gave Valpo a ten-point advantage 31-21 and the Brown and Gold took a 34-26 advantage into the locker room.
Valpo shot 54.2% in the first half and was 5-of-8 from beyond the arc while committing just five turnovers. The Crusader limited Purdue to 41.7% shooing and force ten turnovers in the opening stanza.
After Purdue scored first in the second half, Valpo went to building upon its advantage. A Bechtold basket followed by an old-fashioned three-point play by Braun pushed the lead to 11. Bechtold then drove to the hole before laying it in, giving the Crusaders a 41-28 advantage with 16:41 to play in the game.
The 23rd ranked team in the country fought back. A 9-0 spurt over 2:30, keyed by a pair of baskets from Aya Traore, brought the Boilermakers back within four as the game moved under 12 minutes to play. Two straight three-pointers and a lay-in by Erin Lawless with 7:54 left gave Purdue a 48-47 lead, its first lead since the ten minute mark of the first half and capped off a 20-6 run.
Katie Gearlds hit her fifth three of the game and added a leaner in the lane with 2:37 left to increase the lead to eight, 60-52 and the Boilermakers held on for the victory.
Valpo managed just one field goal over the last 5:33 after having the game tied at 52 as Purdue finished on the 18-3 run.
Rietema led the Crusaders with 13 points while Myers added 12, all from beyond the arc. Braun and Bechtold each added 11 for the Brown and Gold as Bechtold, Rietema, and Braun each played 40 minutes.
Gearlds led Purdue (6-2) with 28 points on 10-of-18 shooting for the game, including 6-of-9 from long range. Traore added 23 points and six assists in the win.
Valpo shot 50% for the game while the Boilermakers were 47.3% from the floor but 56.3% from beyond the arc. Purdue outrebounded Valpo 29-22. The Crusaders made just 7-of-13 from the free throw line while the Boilermakers connected on 9-of-11.
Valparaiso (4-4) will return to the court next Sunday as the Crusaders entertain Loyola (Ill.) at the Athletics-Recreation Center beginning at 2:05 p.m.