Feb 10, 2004
IOWA CITY, IA. (AP) — If it wasn’t Shereka Wright scoring for Purdue, it was Katie Gearlds. Between the two of them, the fifth-ranked Boilermakers had far too much firepower for Iowa.
Wright scored 21 of her season-high 34 points in the second half and Gearlds, a freshman, added a career-best 32, leading Purdue to a 90-79 victory on Tuesday night.
“Shereka and Katie really took it upon themselves to find a way to win, but their teammates gave them the ball,” Purdue coach Kristy Curry said. “Our kids are smart enough to understand and recognize situations and mismatches and who’s feeling it and who’s not.”
Wright and Gearlds certainly had it going and Iowa had no answer for either in getting burned defensively for the second straight game. The Hawkeyes lost to Ohio State 93-82 last Thursday.
“We got beat by two very good basketball players tonight,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said. “Katie Gearlds was outstanding. She definitely made a statement to be on the all-freshman team, if not the freshman of the year in the conference after that performance.
“We did not do a good job of keeping the ball out of her hands.”
Purdue (20-2, 10-1 Big Ten) won its 11th straight game by pulling away after Iowa, which trailed by 12 late in the first half, got to within a point just after the break.
Wright, constantly beating her defender whether off the dribble or moving without the ball, made sure the Hawkeyes (12-9, 6-4) never got the lead. She scored 13 of the Boilermakers’ first 16 points in the second half, finishing that burst with two free throws for a 58-50 lead.
A turnaround by Gearlds and a bank shot by Lindsey Hicks stretched the lead to 62-50, and Iowa was never closer than seven points after that.
“I’m very proud of Katie,” Wright said. “This is the type of game she needed. I’ve been telling Katie that she needs to be more aggressive and she picks it up tonight. We need everybody and she came ready to play.”
Jennie Lillis led Iowa with 23 points and Kristi Faulkner scored 17.
Wright, whose career high is 40, made 13 of 24 shots and added six rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Gearlds, scoreless in Sunday’s game with Ohio State, matched her previous high with 17 points in the first half. She went 12-for-16 from the field, made all four of her 3-point shots and looked like someone who could score any time she felt like it.
“I think it’s just so easy to go out there and score when Shereka is putting up 30-some points night in and night out because all teams are so focused on her,” Gearlds said. “I was just able to knock down some shots and caught a hot hand and just kept shooting it.”
Gearlds’ rainbow 3-pointer from the left corner gave Purdue a 77-65 lead with 4:35 remaining. Iowa’s Crystal Smith scored on a putback and hit a 3-pointer to draw the Hawkeyes to 77-70, but they couldn’t capitalize when Purdue went scoreless on three straight possessions after Wright’s two free throws made it 79-70.
Purdue finally secured the victory with breakaway layups by Wright and Erika Valek and four free throws by Gearlds.
“It’s been difficult for us in the past playing here at Iowa,” Wright said. “Iowa plays great at home and it was a big win for us. Hats off to us because we came prepared and gave it all we had and Iowa tested us.”
Purdue was on the verge of a blowout in the first half. Gearlds, 0-for-3 against Ohio State, hit three 3-pointers and scored 17 points during a nine-minute stretch to help Purdue open a 40-28 lead.
Iowa closed the half with a 10-2 run to cut the lead to 42-38, and drew to 42-41 when Jamie Cavey scored the first three points of the second half. Wright then picked off a pass and sailed in for layup, returning the momentum to Purdue.