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January 2, 2013

Moses' magic saves Purdue

CHAMPAIGN - Courtney Moses has had a flair for the dramatic in her most recent visits to Assembly Hall.

After hitting the game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer to win last year's matchup at Illinois, the junior repeated the feat. Only this time, the 5-foot-6 guard had a few seconds to spare and was in the paint, hitting a put-back basket with three seconds remaining in overtime to beat the Illini, 67-66, in the Big Ten opener for both teams.

"I kind of wiggled down the post," Moses said about her last-chance rebound and basket. "I was there for the ball and it came back."

It wasn't pretty, but it was a win. The No. 14 Boilers (12-2 overall, 1-0 in the Big Ten) turned the ball over a season-high 34 times, including on key possessions at the end of regulation and overtime, but were able to survive.

The two teams combined for 55 turnovers, as Illinois scored 28 points off Purdue giveaways.

"Welcome to the Big Ten," Coach Sharon Versyp said. "We knew we had to be ready to come out and play.

"Both teams turned the ball over and we played sloppy at times, but when we had to tonight, we made plays. We did what we needed to do. We know that defense wins championships."

The Boilers were able to offset their turnover problem on the boards as Purdue outrebounded Illinois (7-6, 0-1) 49-29 and grabbed 16 offensive rebounds. It was a reversal of Purdue's massive struggles on the glass in a loss at Notre Dame Saturday.

Wednesday night, both teams struggled at the outset, with the score remained knotted at zeroes until Dee Dee William's basket at 18:05.

"We got off to a slow start tonight and I think we really didn't take advantage at the start," Illinois coach Matt Bollant said. "But Purdue is a good defensive team. We felt like we had to try to get some opportunities early against them."

The Boilers jumped out to a 7-0 lead. However, Illinois dominated the middle portion of the first half, outscoring Purdue 22-9 over the next 12 minutes of action.

A three-pointer by Moses cut the lead to 22-19 and the Boilers would close the first half on a 16-4 run, capped by KK Houser's buzzer-beating three-pointer near midcourt.

With 7:50 remaining in regulation, Illinois grabbed a 50-45 lead and looked to be in control. But over the game's next four-and-a-half minutes, Purdue raced back with an 11-0 run to erase the deficit and claim a 56-50 edge.

The run was buoyed by a defensive stretch that saw five straight stops leading to five straight baskets.

"They did a good job in the half-court defense," Bollant said "They have good length and their bigs played well."

In the overtime period, Illinois went up 64-63 with 2:59 remaining, but was unable to hold on.

The Illini were led in scoring by Adrienne GodBold's 20 points as well as 15 apiece from Ivory Crawford and Karisma Penn.

GodBold finished with 11 rebounds and Penn added nine, but the pair was on the bench after fouling out as Moses collected a weak-side rebound off a Sam Ostarello miss for the game-winning layup.

Houser led the Boilers in scoring with a game-high 20 points to go with seven rebounds, five steals and four assists. It was a real stat-stuffing game for the junior point guard, who also finished with a game-high nine turnovers.

"KK is always the key for us," Versy said. "You can't ask anymore out of a player than what she gave us tonight. She had an amazing floor game.

"She was quick enough to get to the hole. She was hitting threes and even some pull-ups. I thought she set up other players well, too, finding Sam Ostarello and Drey (Mingo)."

It was a good bounce-back game for Houser after struggling with only two points and six turnovers in Purdue's 74-47 loss to No. 5 Notre Dame last weekend.

"It was really just about going out and playing with confidence," Houser said. "When you coach has your back 100 percent of the time, anything is possible.

"Coach and I talked pregame and we talked about going out and playing with confidence."

The victory was also Chantel Poston's first game back from injury. The fifth-year senior was impressive in 25 minutes off the bench, finishing with four points, six rebounds and two assists.

"Poston was a huge highlight for us; she was a key," Versyp said. "She came in and played with confidence. We didn't think she would play until the Ohio State game (on Jan. 14), but she came in and was a real boost."

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