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January 17, 2013

Boilers pull away from Gophers

Coming off a triple overtime win only three nights earlier, the Boilermakers wanted to try to conserve energy as much as possible Thursday while also beating Minnesota.

They accomplished both, ending their overtime streak at three games by beating the Golden Gophers in regulation in Mackey Arena.

"We were really focused tonight because we knew we were going to be tired and fatigued from the Ohio State game," guard Dee Dee Williams said after the 75-67 win. "But I feel like we really buckled down and focused."

That appeared to be the case. Despite the fatigue, No. 12 Purdue (15-2 overall, 4-0 in the Big Ten) committed only 14 turnovers and assisted on 22 of its 25 field goals, many of those coming in the paint after breaking down Minnesota's zone defense.

Forward Sam Ostarello continued her hot streak, with 19 points and 14 rebounds, giving her three straight double-doubles; she's the first Boilermaker with such a string since Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton in 2009. And frontcourt mate Drey Mingo, despite battling the flu earlier in the week, scored 14.

"I think our guards did an unbelievable job of finding angles when they had it from the wing," Mingo said. "And our high-low was working for us a little bit in the beginning."

But most importantly, the Boilermakers were able to stay as fresh as possible. They practiced only lightly the last two days, taking mental reps as much as physical. Then, once the game started, Versyp was liberal with her substitutions.

Taylor Manuel came off the bench to score nine points, with Chantel Poston adding four. And Hayden Hamby played seven minutes, important considering fellow freshman guard April Wilson was out with the flu.

"That's what I always intend to do," Versyp said of dipping into the bench early. "It just depends on how the flow of the game goes, but that was my mindset going in."

Mingo was particularly pleased. The sixth-year senior looked winded in the opening minutes, and was subbed out at the 17:40 mark of the first half, much earlier than usual. But she came back in for about three-minute intervals, and scored all 14 of her points in 11 first-half minutes.

"When I saw Taylor coming in for me, I was like 'Oh yeah,'" Mingo said. "Being sick kind of takes a lot out of you, so I was thankful for the breaks I got today."

Mingo's outburst in the first half - she scored the final four points, after converting a three-point play minutes earlier to give Purdue the lead for good - put the Boilers up 38-33 at the half. The Gophers, who had three players, including star Rachel Banham, pick up three fouls each in the first half, pulled to within three to start the second.

But they'd get no closer.

Courtney Moses' triple started a 13-3 run, which concluded with her and KK Houser finding Manuel for layups on back-to-back possessions. Purdue led 51-38 with 15:11 remaining.

Minnesota (13-5, 2-2) twice cut its deficit to seven, but after the second, Moses hit a three, then Ostarello was fed inside from Houser to stretch the lead back to a dozen; that, by the way, was Purdue's 22nd assist on its 23rd field goal. Its only previous non-assisted bucket was on a first-half Ostarello offensive rebound.

Purdue scored 38 points in the paint.

"Minnesota was playing behind, so our posts were doing a great job of getting position and holding it," said Moses, who had 18 points, six assists and zero turnovers in 35 minutes. "And they were wide open and we could see the front of their jerseys. And coach always says 'If you can see the Purdue on the front, get them the ball.'"

Purdue was efficient with its offense, committing only 14 turnovers, including only four in the second half. Houser finished with 10 assists in the second straight game, and had only three TOs. Due to its ball movement, Purdue shot better than 47 percent from the floor.

The Boilers did so against a zone defense, something they struggled against vs. Ohio State on Monday night.

"It didn't take half the shot clock to (start) moving," Versyp said, pointing out a deficiency vs. the Buckeyes. "And that always helps against any zone defense. We knew we didn't play well offensive (vs. Ohio State). We really didn't do much different, we just moved and passed the ball.

"We were just jelling tonight and that makes a big difference."

Banham scored 17 points for the Gophers, but did so on only 7-of-23 shooting. Leah Cotton also scored 17. But Minnesota shot only 37.5 percent.

Ostarello again led the way for the Boilermakers. In her last three games, she's totaled 58 points, 52 rebounds and 11 blocks and is doing so despite a sore right shoulder. During the second half against the Gophers, she often appeared to be favoring the joint as she held her arm against her body for protection.

But she's playing at an All-Big Ten level.

"I think she's living up to her billing coming out of high school," Minnesota coach Pam Borton said. "She was one of the top high school players in the country and is having a great year. She's extremely athletic and I don't think there's anything she can't do out there on the floor."

Copyright, Boilers, Inc. 2013. 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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