CHAMPAIGN — Courtney Moses played the role of Illinois heartbreaker again.
Exactly one year after hitting a game-winning three-pointer as time elapsed to beat the Illini by one point, the Purdue junior guard came through in the clutch again Wednesday night at the Assembly Hall.
Moses’ offensive rebound and put-back with 6.7 seconds left in overtime Wednesday night lifted the No. 14 Boilermakers to a 67-66 Big Ten-opening victory against upset-minded Illinois.
First-year Illini coach Matt Bollant wasn’t around for Moses’ heroics a year ago, but he recently watched that game on tape and was well aware of the diminutive Boilermaker’s penchant for tormenting Illinois.
“I can’t believe she gets a tip-in by herself at 5-foot-6,” Bollant said. “She was in the right place at the right time. That’s what good players do.”
Illinois had one final chance to answer Purdue and still pull out its second straight victory against a ranked opponent after knocking off then-No. 6 Georgia on Friday. Kersten Magrum drove to the basket and put up a shot from the lane, but it missed, and Purdue’s Drey Mingo grabbed the rebound as time expired.
The loss to Purdue was the eighth in the last nine games of this series. For Illini seniors Adrienne GodBold and Karisma Penn, who now are 1-5 in their careers against the Boilermakers, this was just one more frustrating outcome against a longtime tormentor.
“It’s tough,” said GodBold, who fouled out early in overtime but still led Illinois in points (20) and rebounds (11). “It’s hard on us. The seniors, me and Karisma, probably wanted it more than anybody (on the team) with the history with Purdue for the last three years.”
“I’m sure we’ll face them again, and that’s going to be a good game. It’s going to be a game to watch and we’re going to bring everything to the table that we possibly can.”
The Illini also played the final 2:32 of overtime without Penn after the center fouled out. Penn finished with 15 points, including 13 in the second half, and nine rebounds.
Still, Illinois managed to take Purdue down to the wire with GodBold and Penn on the bench for much of overtime.
“Probably a lot of people think, well, Illinois (is) about to go down,” Bollant said. “And the other five kids on the court kept fighting.
“I think we have two great senior leaders ... but those other kids stepped up and made plays and gave us a great opportunity to win.”
Illinois was soundly outrebounded 49-29 but managed to create possessions with its pressure defense. Purdue turned the ball over a season-high 34 times, even more than the 25 turnovers the Boilermakers committed when they faced current No. 1 Connecticut on Nov. 24.
“We can compete with these top-ranked teams and we know what we’re capable of doing and bringing to the court,” GodBold said. “It gives us a bit of confidence.”
Penn honored again. Penn continues to receive national recognition for her difference-making performance against then-No. 6 Georgia last week. The U.S. Basketball Writers Association announced Wednesday that Penn was its choice for the Ann Meyers Drysdale National Player of the Week award. On Monday, the 6-foot-2 senior was named espnW National Player of the Week as well as Big Ten Player of the Week.
Penn scored a game-high 27 points and grabbed a career-high 19 rebounds to propel the Illini to a 70-59 victory against previously undefeated Georgia on Dec. 28. She scored 13 of Illinois’ first 31 points and later accounted for 11 of 13 Illini points as they pulled away to a 65-57 lead.
Oden out. Illini reserve forward Nia Oden was unavailable for the game due to a separated shoulder. Bollant said the injury happened overnight Wednesday while Oden was sleeping.