West Lafayette, IND. - Make that five wins in a row for the surging Gophers.
Destiny Pitts scored 27 points, 23 in the second half, as Minnesota used a dominating fourth quarter to beat Purdue 65-45 on Thursday in Big Ten women’s basketball before an announced 6,126 at Mackey Arena.
The Gophers (18-7, 7-7 Big Ten) held a 45-43 lead going into the final quarter before outscoring Purdue 20-2 in the last 10 minutes to turn the game into a runaway.
“If we could get a run going, we felt we could break them,” first-year Gophers coach Lindsay Whalen said in a postgame radio interview. “… To start the fourth quarter, we got a tough basket by Pitts. She ran a nice curl, then defensively we made a stand. They scored only two.”
The Boilermakers (16-11, 7-7) missed all 11 shots they took from the field in the quarter and made only two of four free throws.
As for Pitts, she didn’t miss at all in the second half, making nine shots in a row. She was 10-for-12 overall.
“The first half, they were trying to limit my touches,” the sophomore guard said in a Big Ten Network interview. “In the second half, I knew I had to get some good looks, and my teammates were trying to find me.”
Said Whalen of Pitts: “She was tremendous. I saw that look [on her face] early in the day. The first half everyone was focused on her. [Then] we set some good screens for her, we got her in transition. Pitts was unbelievable, 27 points, and she had seven boards, too.”
The only other Gophers player in double figures was Kenisha Bell with 17.
Karissa McLaughlin had 13 points and Ae’Rianna Harris 10 for the Boilermakers who are 1-5 since defeating the Gophers 64-53 on Jan. 24 at Williams Arena.
“Our main goal [on defense], we didn’t want them to get threes off,” Whalen said. “... We didn’t think could score enough twos to beat us.”
The Gophers shot 50 percent from the field, 3-for-5 on threes. Purdue shot 37.3 percent overall, 4-for-9 on threes.
“They [the Boilermakers] got us at home,” Pitts said. “We didn’t start the Big Ten the way we wanted to, but they say it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.”