Taking The Lead 

Taking The Lead

Missouri State won four games in four days to win the Missouri Valley women’s tournament, but had only 10 minutes of good basketball left.

That wasn’t nearly enough as Purdue’s Aya Traore had 20 points and a career-high 11 rebounds and Erin Lawless scored a season-best 19 points to lead the Boilermakers over the Lady Bears 73-52 Sunday in the first round of the NCAA women’s tournament.

Missouri State (17-15) jumped out to a 10-point lead against the fourth-seeded Boilermakers, but was simply overpowered the rest of the way.

Purdue coach Kristy Curry knew the Lady Bears were capable of playing the way they did in the early minutes.

“They played like that their last four games,” she said. “The question was, could they sustain it for 40 more minutes? We hoped they couldn’t, and fortunately, they weren’t able to.”

Missouri State guard Kari Koch entered the game averaging 20.5 points, but was held to 11. Sarah Klaassen added 10 points for the Lady Bears.

Purdue (25-6) led by as many as 23 points in the second half. The Boilermakers advanced to play the winner of the Bowling Green-UCLA game in the second round of the Cleveland regional on Tuesday.

Purdue outrebounded the Lady Bears 25-11 in the second half. The Boilermakers held Missouri State to 32 percent shooting, 28 percent in the second half.

Missouri State freshman Kayli Combs opened the game with two three-pointers to give the Lady Bears a quick 6-0 lead.

Missouri State got to a 22-12 lead before the Boilermakers went on a 14-2 run. Purdue took its first lead on a three-pointer by Jodi Howell with 5:03 left in the first half and never trailed again.

“It’s not what we planned on happening,” Curry said, “not how we coached on opening, not probably what the kids woke up thinking would happen. But we talked about it taking 40 minutes, not 38, not 30, but 40 minutes. But you have to give Missouri State credit for the way it came out. It is a game of runs, and ours was about 28 minutes longer than theirs, so I’ll take that.”

Lawless said the Boilermakers were rusty after 13 days off.

Katie Gearlds, Purdue’s leading scorer, didn’t score until hitting a mid-range jumper with 6:40 left in the first half. She finished with 13 points and four rebounds.

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