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December 29, 2012

Run over

SOUTH BEND - Purdue had multiple breakdowns against Notre Dame on Saturday afternoon, its last test before the start of the Big Ten season next week.

The Boilermakers fell behind 17 in the opening six minutes in front of a sellout crowd at the Purcell Pavilion; they committed 22 turnovers and shot less than 30 percent; Purdue didn't hit a three-pointer, missing all 11 of its attempts; and the 11th-ranked Boilers, beaten 74-47, were dominated on the glass, being outrebounded by a 2-to-1 margin.

"That's what it came down to," Coach Sharon Versyp said of Purdue's woes on the boards, where it had a 56-28 deficit, mostly by giving up 25 offensive rebounds. "They almost had more offensive boards than we had (total) rebounds. The rest didn't matter, that's the only stat I put up on the board (after the loss). … If we box out and finish, the game could have been totally different."

But it wasn't. Instead, the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish (10-1) dominated, handing the Boilers (11-2) their second lopsided loss to a top-five opponent (UConn) this season.

Notre Dame exploded in the opening minutes, jumping to a 21-4 lead following an 11-0 run. But thanks to a spark off the bench from Taylor Manuel - Drey Mingo had picked up two fouls in the first five-plus minutes - Purdue responded.

The freshman's three-point play at 13:05 started a 16-4 run, pulling the Boilers to within five, 25-20, nearly seven minutes later.

"My teammates and coaches had me well prepared," said Manuel, who scored 12 points, second only to Courtney Moses' 13 for the Boilers. "They just told me to go to work down low."

But it was as close as Purdue would come. Despite ND All-American Skylar Diggins on the bench with foul trouble, the Fighting Irish ended the half on a 17-6 run to go into the locker room up 42-26.

It wasn't any better to start the second and the lead ballooned to as many as 30. During one sequence early, Purdue gave up three straight offensive boards before Natalie Achonwa, who had 15 points and 17 rebounds, put in a layup. She was fouled and missed the freebie, but the ball was rebounded by teammate Kayla McBride, who put it back up for two more.

The Irish had 17 second-chance points and outscored Purdue 40-22 in the paint. Mingo and Sam Ostarello, the Boilers' starting forwards, combined for only nine points and six rebounds.

"Their post players are tall and very good," said Manuel, who had two rebounds. "It was kind of difficult, but I wasn't boxing them out. I can't out-jump them, as I can see obviously, so if I would have boxed them out I would have gotten more rebounds. But I didn't do that and I didn't get the rebounds I should have."

Purdue's guards struggled against Notre Dame's pressure defense; Moses and KK Houser combined for 12 of the Boilermakers' 22 turnovers, and Houser, who had five giveaways in the first half, was on the bench to start the second.

Purdue shot only 29.8 percent, including 25 percent in the second half, and it was held without a three-point field goal for the first time since a game vs. Michigan State in 2009.

"We really guarded them on the three-point line, which was our main goal," ND coach Muffet McGraw said. "They're shooting well from there and we held them scoreless; that was a phenomenal accomplishment for us."

McBride led the Irish with 18 points, while Diggins had 16 in only 19 foul-plagued minutes. The Irish shot only 38.6 percent, and committed their own 22 turnovers, but the rebounding advantage negated those deficits.

"For some reason when we play against Notre Dame, we try to be individuals rather than a team," Versyp said. "Why we were 11-1 coming in is that we were a great team. We weren't a great team today; we were a very average team and a few people did some good things."

Moses, who hit 5-of-11 shots for her 13 points, says the Boilermakers need to let the loss linger for a few days; their next challenge at Illinois, with the start of Big Ten play on Wednesday.

"It's very frustrating," Moses said. "We have a lot to work on, it's Big Ten season now. This game, with what we have, it's totally unacceptable for us."

Versyp, who has now seen her Boilers lose seven straight to the rivals to the north, agreed.

"It's unacceptable, period," she said. "We'll see what we're made of. If we're just going to be good, then we're just going to be good. If they want to respond, then we'll be a great team."

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2012. All Rights Reserved. Reproducing or using editorial or graphical content, in whole or in part, without permission, is strictly prohibited. E-mail GoldandBlack.com/Boilers, Inc.

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