Live! UI women at No. 25 Purdue

Final: Purdue 76, Illinois 65

The Illini saw their hopes for a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament  vanish at the hands of a longtime nemesis.

Instead, No. 25 Purdue clinched a top-four seed and the bye that comes with it Sunday with a 76-65 victory.

The loss dropped Illinois (16-12, 9-7 Big Ten) into a tie for fifth place with Michigan. The Illini will open the tournament Thursday as the No. 6 seed against Wisconsin.

Illinois led 50-47 with under 11 1/2 minutes left when Purdue went on a 13-0 run. Courtney Moses (21 points) capped the flurry with a field goal with 7:52 left to put the Illini in a 60-50 hole.

Purdue (21-8, 10-6) then kept Illinois at arm's length by sinking 12 of 15 free throws down the stretch.

Karimsa Penn led the Illini with 23 points and eight rebounds. Adrienne GodBold added 18 points.

****

11:52 left in second half

Illinois 48, Purdue 47

Hero: Adrienne GodBold. The Illini senior has doubled her halftime scoring total already and has 16 points. GodBold has yet to miss in four field-goal attempts.

Goat: none. Really competitive game. Fun to watch.

What I'm thinking:

-- The Illini have been struggling with their shooting in recent games, but not today. They're up to 48.7 percent (19 of 39).

-- Just when we were going to write that Illinois is having that exceptionally rare game in which no one is in foul trouble, Ivory Crawford picked up her second and third fouls in a three-second span.

-- Amber Moore could be headed for a double-double. The Illini guard has seven points and eight rebounds.

-- Love Purdue's "Kiss Cam," During one of the second-half timeouts, couples were shown on the video board. The fans know the routine. When the spotlight is on them, they are expected to kiss. They even name a winner. An older couple proved to be the best kissers. Experience matters!

****

Halftime: Purdue 36, Illinois 32

Hero: Courtney Moses. That noted Illini nemesis is at it again. Moses has scored a game-high 12 points on 5 of 8 shooting. The Purdue junior guard scored the game-winning shot the last time these teams met, and her three-pointer at the final buzzer beat Illinois last season in Champaign.

Goat: Illini ballhandlers (again). It's not just that Illnois has turned the ball over 12 times in that half, it's that Purdue has capitalized big-time, with 20 points off turnovers.

What I'm thinking:

-- Illinois isn't going to win if it can't get a handle on Purdue's attack. And it's not just Moses. The Boilermakers are shooting 53.8 percent (14 of 26).

-- This has been a game of spurts. After falling behind 15-11, Illinois went on an 8-0 run to take a four-pont lead. After a timeout, Purdue immediately answered with a 9-0 surge to retake the lead at 24-19.

-- On the plus side for Illinois, it is ruling second-chance points, 10-2.

-- Where have I been? Apparently the favorite phrase around here is "Boiler Up!" The fans shout it and people who tape messages for the Mackey Arena videoboard say it.

-- I have been to Mackey before, but it's been a looooong time. Can't say the interior of the gym is anything special. Maybe that's not where the renovation work was done. The concourse is nice, but that's not where you spend a game unless food is your sole object for showing up. (yes, I'm getting preachy about diet and  nutrition; hope you're not offended).

****

11:55 Left in First Half

Purdue 15, Illinois 11

Hero: Purdue shooters. The Boilermakers have hit 7 of their first 12 shots (58.3 percent). Showing patience in the half-court makes a difference.

Goat: Illini ballhandlers. Illini already up to seven turnovers. Way too sloppy.

What I'm thinking:

-- Just as Ohio State did on Thursday, Purdue is hurting Illinois with its inside game. Boilermakers have 10 points in the paint.

-- Amber Moore, who struggled mightily against in the Illini's loss to Ohio State, is off to a great start. The redshirt junior guard keeping Illinois close with five points. Moore shot 1 for 8 and scored three points on Thursday.

-- Big crowd here, so the atmosphere is definitely challenging for Illinois. Purdue entered the day averaging 8,502 fans in 12 home gams this season. That leads the Big Ten by a wide margin.

****

Here's the final from East Lansing: Michigan State has defeated Wisconsin 54-48. That means Illinois must defeat Purdue to earn a top-four seed in the Big Ten tournament. If the Illini lose, Michigan State and Purdue will tie for third place and get the final two byes in the tournament,

***

There is good news for the Illini from Columbus, Ohio. Ohio State has defeated Michigan 66-55 to drop the Wolverines to 9-7 in the Big Ten.

This is one of the dominoes that needed to fall for Illinois to earn a top-four seed in next week's Big Ten tournament and the first-round bye that comes with it. Now, the Illini once again control their own destiny on a bye. If they can defeat Purdue, the Illini are assured of at least tying for third place and gettng a bye.

Another game with bearing on the top-four seeds is taking place at East Lansing, Mich., where Michigan State is playing host to Wisconsin. Like Illinois and Purdue, the Spartans entered the day with a 9-6 record and in the runnking for a bye.

With about 4 1/2 minutes left, Michigan State leads the Badgers 48-43.

***

Welcome to our live report from Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Ind., for today’s Big Ten women’s basketball game between Illinois and No. 25 Purdue.

There’s plenty riding on this regular-season finale for both teams. The Illini (16-11, 9-6) and the Boilermakers (20-8, 9-6) enter in a four-way tie for third place in the conference with Michigan and Michigan State. At stake for all of those teams are the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds in next week’s Big Ten tournament, and the first-round bye that comes with being a top-four seed. If Illinois can defeat Purdue, and if at least one of the Michigan teams loses today, the Illini would be a top-four seed. Michigan State is at home against 11th-place Wisconsin and Michigan travels to Ohio State.

Illinois is looking to secure its first Big Ten tournament bye since 2007.

History is not on Illinois’ side today. Purdue leads the all-time series 49-17 and is 27-4 on its home court against the Illini. The Boilermakers have won eight of the last nine meetings, 13 of the last 15 and 25 of the last 28. Illinois hasn’t won at Mackey Arena since 2005.

The most recent meeting was a heartbreaker for Illinois. Purdue pulled out a 67-66 victory in overtime on a rebound putback by Courtney Moses. The Illini had the last possession of OT, but Kersten Magrum’s runner in the lane missed the mark.

Neither team is exactly rolling right now, particularly Purdue. The Boilermakers, who started the Big Ten race 7-1, have lost five of their last seven games. Illinois has lost two of its last three and is struggling with its shooting. The Illini shot 29.5 percent Thursday in a home loss to Ohio State, and their field goal percentage has been under 34 percent in three of their last four games.

In Illinois’ favor today is that is has been remarkably resilient. The Illini’s record in games after a loss is 9-1. Only once this season has Illinois lost as many as two games in a row.

A win today would give Illinois a double-figure victory total in the Big Ten for the first time since the 1999-2000 season. It also is looking for its first road win against a Big Ten opponent that is ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 since 2001.

We’ll update this live report at around the midpoint and the end of each half so be sure to check back.
 

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