Purdue Benches Golden Knights

ORLANDO – Freshman Katie Gearlds came off the bench to score 16 points as the No. 8 ranked Purdue women's basketball team dealt UCF an 87-52 loss in the opening round of the Golden Knights Classic on Friday night.

The Boilermakers (3-1) jumpstarted the game with eight unanswered points. They kept the Golden Knights (0-2) without a field goal until sophomore Celeste Hudson sank a three-pointer at 15:20 to cut the visitor's lead to 14-5. Purdue's advantage climbed to 22-11 at 13:09 before both squads hit a scoring drought that lasted close to three minutes. Gearlds ended the Boilmakers' dry spell at 10:22 with a fastbreak layup, and a trey by freshman LaShaunda Slade at 9:12 cut PU's lead to 12.

From that point, Purdue took advantage of their offensive opportunities to pull away and led by a first half high of 31 points at 2:58, but had to settle for a 51-21 favor at the intermission. Although both teams had an equal 30 chances from the field in the opening period, the Boilermakers hit 21of theirs (70%), while UCF sank only seven (23.3%).

The Golden Knights shot better from the field in the second half going 9-for-26 (34.6%) even as Purdue saw their percentage drop to a still respectable 42.9% (12-for-28). In fact, the Boilermakers only outscored UCF 36-31, but the damage had already been done.

With 1:55 remaining to play, PU went up by a game-high 39 points when Sharika Webb made the second of her two free throws. The Golden Knights finished on a 7-3 run.

Purdue played UCF in many aspects of the game – including a 37-33 advantage on the boards despite UCF leading the offensive glass by a 17-10 margin. The Golden Knights turned over the ball 21 times – 12 in the first half - to the Boilermakers' 14.

Gearlds and fellow rookie Erin Lawless combined for a total of 30 points off the bench for Purdue. UCF got a team-high nine points from Hudson, Slade and sophomore LaShay King.

In the earlier game, Wake Forest (3-0) defeated Nicholls State (1-2) by a score of 79-47 thanks to 12 points from each from Keila Evans and Liz Strunk.

The Golden Knights Classic finishes on Saturday when the Boilermakers take on Wake Forest at 3 p.m. and UCF tips off against Nicholls State at 5 p.m.

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