Purdue outlasts Minnesota in overtime

The Gophers will play Rutgers on Sunday.

Matt Greenstein

Heading into Thursday’s exhilarating and adrenaline-filled 90-88 overtime loss against Purdue, Minnesota’s redshirt sophomore center Amanda Zahui B. said the Gophers would have to contain the Boilermakers’ shooters.

But Minnesota struggled to do that Thursday; Zahui B. — who was third in the nation in blocks as of Jan. 20 — was only held to just one block during the game.

Within the first four-and-a-half minutes of the game, Purdue tested Minnesota’s defensive strategy. The Gophers seemed to be lacking energy as Purdue hit its first seven of 10 shots to begin the game.

Junior guard Shayne Mullaney said the team lacked defensive discipline, which hurt it.

With just over five minutes left in the first half, Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp received a technical after arguing a foul call.

After the technical, the Boilermakers’ offense became even more dynamic, at one point going on a 12-0 run.

The last time the two teams played, Minnesota’s ability to defend the Purdue shooters was evident in both halves, as the Boilermakers only shot 36.4 percent from the field and 20 percent from beyond the arc.

Purdue ended the first half leading by 11 and shooting 60.6 percent from the field including 57.1 percent from three.

 “It’s a lot to overcome. Ultimately, the first half killed us. They were wide open, catching and shooting in the spots we know we can defend,” head coach Marlene Stollings said.

The second half was no different for Minnesota, as it seemed to take one step forward toward cutting into the deficit and then two steps backward.

At one point Purdue, held a 15-point lead and senior Shae Kelley said it was hard for the team to play catch up after a slow start.

“We just had to stay aggressive. Our defense had picked up a lot, so we knew we could get the stops we needed to get. We just dug ourselves into a hole early in the first half,” Kelley said.

The game was far from over for Minnesota as it managed to battle back with the help of Zahui B and Kelley.

Zahui B. finished the game with 26 points and 11 rebounds

With 2:31 left, Zahui B. picked up her fifth foul, Stolling said it was tough without her on the floor.

“We certainly wanted to get her the ball. We just wished that she was on the floor longer. They don’t have an answer for her, but we need her on the floor,” Stollings said.

Minnesota’s tenacity in the closing minutes of the second half helped it force overtime.

In a closely-fought overtime, the Gophers’ presence in the paint wasn’t enough to bother Purdue’s game-winning floater.

“[Whitney Bays] just made a play. She’s just one of those kids on our team that can make plays. We’re very fortunate she was able to make that shot,” Versyp said.