Boilermaker Women power past Albany thanks to Harris’ big game

Junior Ae’Rianna Harris matched her season high with 23 points to lead the Purdue women’s basketball team to a 53-41 victory over visiting Albany at Mackey Arena on Wednesday. The win pushes the Boilermakers to 8-4 on the season and 6-1 at home as they have just one more non-conference contest before the holiday break.

On a day when the Boilermakers struggled to find the bucket Harris picked her teammates up, hitting 7-of-12 from the field and a flawless 9-of-9 at the charity stripe. She accounted for 13 of Purdue’s 23 first-half points and scored six straight to squash an 11-0 Albany run in the third quarter. The Boilermaker junior added to the cause with five rebounds and five blocked shots, part of a Purdue defensive effort that held Albany to 34.8 percent shooting and under 10 points in three of the four quarters.

“It was all about confidence today. My teammates had confidence in me, getting me the ball in positions to score, and I had confidence in myself, going hard at the rim and scoring,” said Harris. “Defensively I’m just having good timing and staying in position to block shots,” she continued. “I just need to continue working on keeping my feet and keeping good position.”

Junior classmate Dominique Oden stepped up on both ends of the floor for her team, accounting for 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and locking up Albany sophomore point guard Kyara Frames down the stretch. Nine of Oden’s 13 came in the fourth quarter as she and sophomore Karissa McLaughlin teamed for an 11-0 run in the final five minutes, and zero of Frames’ 15 points came in head-to-head fashion with the Boilermaker junior captain.

McLaughlin had an off day shooting the ball but found other ways to help her team, finishing with nine points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals, while committing zero turnovers in 39 minutes. Fellow sophomore Lyndsey Whilby chipped in to the box score to the tune of a career-high six rebounds and three assists in 19 minutes off the bench.

Things got interesting in the third quarter Wednesday as Purdue scored the first four points to stretch their lead to 27-17 in the opening two minutes of the half, but Albany was not ready to go away. The Great Danes reeled off 11 straight points and took a 28-27 lead with two minutes left in the third. The two sides traded buckets through the rest of the quarter until freshman Cassidy Hardin’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds to give Purdue a 36-33 edge heading to the fourth.

Albany continued to keep pace over the first few minutes of the fourth, but McLaughlin and Oden put things to bed as a backdoor layup by McLaughlin sparked an 11-0 run to seal things up. Oden’s double-figure scoring effort is her 11th in 12 games this season and 18th in her last 20 games overall.

The Boilermakers converted 15 Albany turnovers into 23 points on the day, while committing a season-low nine turnovers of their own. Purdue also assisted on 15 of its 18 made field goals and cashed in on 14-of-15 attempts at the free throw line.

Frames’ 15 points were team-high for the Great Danes, who fell to 2-10 with the loss, and junior Alexi Schecter joined her in double figures with 10 points and six rebounds.

The Boilermakers will play another afternoon contest Friday, hosting the undefeated Bradley Braves for a noon tip at Mackey Arena. Friday is Purdue’s final non-conference game before starting Big Ten play December 28 against Ohio State.

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