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Rutgers’ depth sends Scarlet Knights to Big Ten semifinal

By DeSherion McBroom | @dvo_maximus

Sports Capital Journalism Program

INDIANAPOLIS – In a game of runs, Rutgers won the race defeating Purdue 64-49 as they have now advanced to every semifinal since joining the Big Ten, making it their 5th consecutive trip to the semifinals.

Rutgers (22-8), will face No. 2 seed Iowa on Saturday in the semifinals.

The Boilermakers (19-15), were knocked out in the quarterfinals for the second consecutive year.

Rutgers full-court pressure defense gave Purdue problems the entire game. Rutgers ability to go rotate 10 players in and out, in almost a platoon type system played dividends in the 1st half as they were not only able to tire Purdue out, but keep intensity on both the offensive and defensive ends. In both rotations, length became a problem for the Boilermakers as well.

“We felt like if we could to our matchups that we could get a couple traps, and we could get one to two traps for every possession. I think we were fighting hard to get to the 10-second violation,” said Rutgers assistant head coach Timothy Eatman.

Rutgers spread the wealth offensively, but when they needed a basket, Stasha Carey who finished with 17 and Mael Gilles with 15 led the way.

Purdue’s Tamara Farquhar had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Ae’Rianna Harris finished with 10 points and nine rebounds.

Pressure defense from Rutgers sent Purdue on a scoring drought that lasted over five minutes missing seven shots in a roll…. In the same span, the Scarlet Knights put together a 7-0 run to enforce their will.

“I thought we handled it fairly well (pressure) but when we attacked we needed to finish and that’s when we didn’t finish and that’s when we got beat,” said Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp.

Purdue’s Dominique Oden made a late 3pt basket to cut into the deficit but another late jumper from Rutgers gave them the lead 31-24 going into the half.

“They were just intense. They got after it every second. We knew it was coming, they just played really hard,” said Purdue senior Harris.

Coming out the half the Boilermakers began to up their intensity as they fought to inch closer. Their intensity forced Rutgers to attempt difficult and ill-advised shots as they missed six straight shots. Rattled but not shaken in spirit, Rutgers respond with their very own 7-0 run to silence the Boilermaker crowd.

Purdue had ample fast break opportunities to take advantage of Rutgers moving slow on transition defense but shot their selves in the foot missing countless layups. The Boilermakers also went 4-23 from 3-point range and missed precious free throws down the stretch.

The Boilermakers were outscored in the paint, fast breaks, and allowed Rutgers to outscore them in bench points 16-0.

Just when the Boilermakers were building momentum again Noga Peleg Pelc knocked down a 3-point basket at the buzzer heading into the 4th that emotionally looked to deflate Purdue.

“The three that she hit was huge. The three that Charise (Wilson) hit was huge. I thought when they tried to make a run, we had someone step up to make a play and it wasn’t the same person every time,” explained coach Eatman.

In the 4th, Rutgers kept their foot on the pedal starting yet another run. With Rutgers being able to go so deep into their bench, Purdue could not keep it going against the fresh legs of the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers outscored the Purdue bench 16-0. Rutgers had the fight and the grit that Purdue just couldn’t match.

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