February 4, 2013

Missed opportunity





UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Purdue appeared primed to seize an opportunity to sit alone atop the Big Ten standings on Monday.

It stormed back to pull within one point of eighth-ranked Penn State with 6:35 to play at the Bryce-Jordan Center.
And then Dee Dee Williams had two airballs on one possession.

Then Courtney Moses missed in the lane.

Then Taylor Manuel missed a shot.

Then Moses got an offensive rebound but missed a short jumper in the lane.

Then April Wilson had a steal and a breakaway but double dribbled, giving the ball away.

Then Sam Ostarello missed a hook shot in the lane.

Then Wilson missed a three in the corner.

Then Drey Mingo missed an open three from the wing.

Then Wilson had the ball stolen - on back-to-back plays.
And by the time No. 13 Purdue finally scored a point again - on Moses' three-pointer - it was down nine with only 1:30 to play.

Five minutes without a point.

The Boilermakers played themselves out of sole possession for first and lost their only regular-season meeting with the Nittany Lions, 69-61.

"We hurt ourselves," Coach Sharon Versyp said. "That's the thing I talked about. We did things that we haven't practiced in the first half. You've got to be able to execute the game plan. When we execute, we do very well. The second half, we executed the game plan and had opportunities. You've got to learn from that. You don't want to lose, but sometimes losing kind of gets you re-focused and understand when we have a game plan, that's what you have to do."

Purdue (18-4, 7-2 Big Ten) buried itself with uncharacteristic poor free-throw shooting in the first half, making only 9 of 16, for a team that entered the game hitting 78 percent. That and its usual high-turnover first 20 minutes - 12 before settling for seven in the second half - allowed Penn State (18-3, 8-1) to take a 34-23 lead at the break.

But the Boilermakers started to execute midway through the second - finding players slipping to the rim for layups, moving the ball and setting screens well to get jump shots - and scored on six consecutive possessions to pull within 55-53 with just under eight minutes to play.

It stuck close for another two minutes until unraveling.

"They hit shots when they needed to. We had opportunities, and we just missed them," said Moses, who rebounded from being shut out against Indiana to scoring a game-high 21 on 5-of-8 shooting and a seven-for-seven effort from the line against Penn State.

Purdue had a late flurry - Moses scored six points in 15 seconds with a three and three free throws - but it was too late.

"We were right there. We had opportunities and they just didn't go," Versyp said.

Mingo added 13 points, and Sam Ostarello had 13 rebounds for Purdue. Manuel, coming off her Freshman-of-the-Week honors, had 10 points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench.

Penn State's Maggie Lucas scored 17 on 6-of-13 shooting.




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