No. 13 Purdue 82, Indiana 60
Purdue's Antionette Howard had all the answers Thursday night.
If the Boilermakers needed a defensive stop, she got it. If they needed an offensive rebound, she grabbed it. If they needed a physical presence inside, Howard was willing to scuffle.
The fifth-year senior scored a season-high 20 points, had eight rebounds and a career-high four steals, leading No. 13 Purdue past archrival Indiana 82-60 with the best all-around game of her career. It was no surprise to her coach or teammates.
''The numbers are different,'' coach Sharon Versyp said. ''She always is 4 for 8, she could have eight boards, 12 points, a couple steals. Her numbers were a little bigger scoring wise tonight, but I think each game she progresses, and I think that's making a huge impact on our team right now.''
Howard certainly had a big hand in helping the Boilermakers (16-3, 6-0) remain the Big Ten's only team unbeaten in league play. Purdue has now won nine straight overall and six consecutive games over the hated Hoosiers.
Without Howard, all of those streaks could have ended in Bloomington.
''Antionette is a ball of energy and we all feed off it,'' said Sam Ostarello, who had 11 points and seven rebounds. ''It's just indescribable what she brings.''
On Thursday, with the game not exactly going according to script, Purdue needed every ounce of Howard's effort.
Leading scorer Brittany Rayburn didn't make a basket for the first 15 minutes and finished just 3 of 8 from the field. She did score 14 points, enough to pass Versyp for No. 11 on the school's career scoring list, though.
The Hoosiers also managed to connect on 54.2 percent of their shots in the first half, a stunning turnaround for a team that had lost five straight and was facing one of the nation's best defense.
The bigger surprise to Indiana (5-14, 0-6) was Howard, who bailed out Purdue time after time.
''You have to pick your poison. Certainly, Rayburn is a kid we thought we needed to be cognizant of as well as KK (Houser),'' Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. ''But we didn't bank on another senior coming over there and giving them 20 points.''
Howard did more than just score, too.
She made 9 of 21 shots, had six offensive rebounds, one block and one assist and almost single-handedly thwarted every Indiana challenge in the second half. The Hoosiers were led by Aulani Sinclair with 20 points and Jasmine McGhee with 13.
Indiana finished with 21 turnovers, got outrebounded 49-29 and gave up 22 offensive rebounds - numbers Legette-Jack bemoaned.
Purdue took advantage of the Hoosiers' miscues.
It built an 18-8 lead after forcing six turnovers in the game's first seven minutes, then contended with a late first-half charge that got the Hoosiers within 31-28. Purdue thwarted the rally with six straight points and took a 37-30 lead at the half.
Then Purdue reverted to its more customary style.
The Boilermakers opened the second half on an 10-5 run, extending the margin to as much as 52-36 when Houser hit a 3-pointer with 15:11 to go.
Howard ended one Indiana rally with a layup and a few moments later, with Indiana back within 57-44, Howard completed a three-point play and posted up for another layup to retake a 62-44 lead.
Purdue finally closed it out with a late 9-0 run with Howard falling one point short of matching her career-high.
''My teammates kept finding me, and I kept going up,'' Howard said. ''I could definitely hear them (the fans), but I tried to stay focused on the game.''