No. 15 Purdue defeats Tulane 61-48 in Cancun Challenge

From Purdue Athletics

CANCUN, Mexico – With the weather 82 degrees and mostly sunny outside, the No. 15/17 Purdue Boilermakers (5-0) defeated Tulane 61-48 on Thursday in the Galactic Ballroom of the Moon Palace Resort in Cancun, Mexico.

Brittany Rayburn had a hot shooting night to lead all scorers with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including a season-high 5-of-8 from three-point range. KK Houser contributed 15 points, including the final six of the contest – all from the free throw line – to seal the win for Purdue.

“I missed my first few shots but everybody kept telling me to keep shooting it,” Rayburn said. “We didn’t get to shoot in this gym (prior to warm-ups) so I knew that it was something that I just had to get going. I got hot and people kept finding me.”

The Boilermakers relied on their defense as turnovers continue to be a problem. Purdue committed a season-high 27 turnovers against the Green Wave several against full-court pressure, but when Tulane had an opportunity to tie or take the lead at 7:39 with the score 48-46 on a steal by Tulane’s Danielle Blagg, the Boilermakers got the stops they needed. Purdue held Tulane scoreless in the final 7:39 with the exception of two free throws by Olivia Grayson with 47 seconds left in the contest.

“We had really high energy coming into the game. Defense was strong, we were little pesks, all over them,” Houser said. “We set the tempo of the game today. Second half we came out a little slow and they went on their run, but we stayed together as a team and just kept pushing.”

Neither team scored for nearly 3:30 in the second period with the score 48-46, until Brittany Rayburn hit a three-pointer with 4:12 left to give Purdue a five-point edge.

Purdue broke a nearly two minute scoring drought on an extended possession for the Boilermakers that was started by a steal by Alex Guyton and kept alive by offensive rebounds by Guyton and Rayburn, when Houser penetrated to the basket and found Guyton on the low block for a layup and a 53-47 lead at 2:10. Guyton, Houser and Chantel Poston all came up with big offensive boards in the final minute and a half, to keep Purdue’s scoring hopes alive and help eat up clock.

Houser scored the final six points of the contest – all from the free throw line – to seal the 61-48 victory for Purdue.

“I think the biggest thing is we locked down defensively when we really needed to,” head coach Sharon Versyp said. “We kept them off the offensive boards and we shut down their threes, they were only 2-for-5. I think those categories were really big for us.”

Offensive rebounding was a key for the Boilermakers as they outscored Tulane 18-3 on second chance points. Purdue outrebounded the Green Wave – who came into the game averaging almost 50 rebounds a contest – 42-29.

The Boilermakers had an 11-point lead at the half, 29-18, but a 10-4 run by the Green Wave in the first three minutes, cut the margin to 33-28.

Purdue trailed early in the ball game, getting down 6-1 to start things off. However, the Boilermakers took the lead for good on two free throws by Sam Ostarello at 12-10 at 9:48 in the first half. The Green Wave got it to a two-point margin at 48-46, but the Boilermakers closed the game out with a 13-2 run.

The Boilermakers will take on Kansas State on Friday, Nov. 25 at 10 p.m. ET to wrap up the two-game tournament. The Wildcats faced Hofstra on Thursday in the game after Purdue’s.

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