Hawkeyes' Surge Comes Up Short Against No. 10 Purdue, 68-58

Jan. 3, 2007

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IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) – After missing her first couple of shots, Katie Gearlds decided to get aggressive.

Her mindset shift made all the difference. Her shots started falling and her confidence grew as fast as her point total as Gearlds finished with 27 points to lead No. 10 Purdue to a 68-58 victory over Iowa on Wednesday night.

“For me, I need to come out and be aggressive,” said Gearlds, who was 9-of-18 on the night, including 5-of-8 from behind the 3-point stripe.

“I missed my first couple of shots and I asked coach what I was doing wrong and she told me,” said Gearlds, the Big Ten’s second leading scorer. “The next few went down for me. When the ball goes in the basket, your confidence just gets bigger. It just looks like the ocean and your standing on the beach.”

The Boilermakers (14-2, 3-0 Big Ten) led throughout the second half and held off a late Hawkeye surge to extend their winning streak to seven.

Purdue led by as many as 13 points with 8 minutes remaining, but the Hawkeyes (9-7, 1-2) pulled within five points on a jumper by Kristi Smith with 2:36 to go.

But the Boilermakers sealed the deal in the final minutes, outscoring Iowa 7-2 down the stretch to avenge Iowa’s upset in Iowa City last February when Purdue was ranked No. 8 at the time.

“We knew we were in for a battle,” said Purdue coach Sharon Versyp. “This was very similar to the game last year and we wanted to make sure that we didn’t let this one slip away from our hands. I thought our last three minutes were very composed.”

Purdue also got 12 points, six assists and four steals from freshman guard FahKara Malone, who also fouled out late. Erin Lawless added 11 points, including a 3-pointer with 1:23 left to put the game away.

The Boilermakers shot 50 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent from behind the 3-point arc. Purdue also benefited from Iowa’s carelessness with the ball, scoring 18 points on 21 Hawkeye turnovers.

Smith led Iowa with a career-high 24 points and seven assists. Wendy Ausdemore chipped in 12 and Megan Skouby added 10 points. The Hawkeyes shot 38.6 percent and outrebounded Purdue 36-26.

But the Hawkeyes struggled all game with Purdue’s smothering, full-court press – something Iowa coach Lisa Bluder stressed in practice this week.

“I think our youth showed tonight out there,” said Bluder, coaching her 200th game at Iowa. “The press, I’m very disappointed in that. You wouldn’t know we spent 50 minutes of practice time working on our press breaker the last two days.”

After her slow start, Gearlds, who played all 40 minutes, seemed to make big shots every time her team needed them. Her performance also helped smooth over some bad feelings from last season’s loss here, one of her worst games last season.

“Last year I tanked it. I was just awful,” said Gearlds, who had just nine points in the overtime loss.

Purdue jumped out in front early and stretched the lead to 16-9 on a 3-pointer by Gearlds at the 8:33 mark.

After settling down and taking better care of the ball, the Hawkeyes answered with a 12-5 run that included a pair of 3-pointers by Smith. A short turnaround jumper by Skouby put Iowa in front 21-19 with 5:05 left in the half.

But Purdue didn’t waste any time regaining the lead. Gearlds scored seven points in a 13-3 run in the final 4 1/2 minutes to give the Boilermakers a 32-24 lead at the break. She led all scorers in the first half with 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting.