If Purdue is to right what had been an inconsistent season so far, it'll likely do so behind senior Andreona Keys.
She came through big on Saturday, scoring a career-high 34 to deliver the Boilermakers their second straight win over a top-25 opponent, beating No. 18 Iowa 76-70 in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
"Keys just stepped it up. That's what seniors do, they shine when you go through tough times. She was feeling it inside and outside and we were feeding her," Coach Sharon Versyp said in her post-game radio interview. "... You saw her knock down shots with confidence."
The Boilermakers (12-7 overall, 3-2 in the Big Ten) held off multiple Iowa (15-3, 3-2) runs in the second half to pull out the victory. The last two came in the fourth quarter, the first after Purdue had held a 59-51 lead only 27 seconds in, when the Hawkeyes used a 7-0 run to pull within a point at the 7:20 mark.
But as it had in the third quarter, Purdue responded, with Keys getting a couple layups before a Dominique Oden three-pointer to grab a 67-60 edge at the 4:10 mark. It was a two-point margin 90 seconds later, following a five-point Iowa run, but after Oden stole away a critical Hawkeyes' possession, the Boilermakers scored the next six and held on for the win.
"We weathered the storm," Versyp said. "A big, big Big Ten road win, especially here, where we haven't won since '08."
After being tied at 38 at the half, Purdue used an 11-4 third-quarter run to take a 49-42 lead following Karissa McLaughlin's triple at the 2:46 mark. But after Iowa had scored six straight, Purdue responded, going on an 8-1 run — McLaughlin had another three-pointer, then Keys scored five straight — to go into the fourth quarter up 57-49. Then, Purdue held off two more charges.
Keys scored her 34 points on 13 of 19 from the field, including four of her five three-pointers, with three rebounds and an assists. Oden had 16, while McLaughlin scored 15, including four free throws in the final minutes.
Only two other Boilermakers scored — Purdue played without starter Lamina Cooper, who briefly had left the Rutgers game Wednesday but returned to finish, because of an injury — with Ae'Rianna Harris chipping in four point and seven boards. But the surprise contributor was Nora Kiesler, who not only scored seven off the bench but gave Purdue a physical inside presence. And the Boilermakers needed that, considering Megan Gustafson proved hard to stop; the Iowa center scored 37 on 17-of-23 shooting with 14 rebounds.
But Purdue shot nearly 51 percent with only 12 turnovers. And the Boilermakers made up for being walloped on the boards, 39-27, and in the paint by hitting nine of their 17 three-pointers.
Iowa, which had only one other double-figurer scorer, shot 46 percent and had 16 turnovers.
"They grew immensely and where they grew the most was the mind," Versyp said. "You have to be mentally tough and that's where you win or lose ball games. This can really help us."
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