Purdue returns to prime form

The Boilermakers can hope a rout of Indiana brings greater success.

WEST LAFAYETTE -- Late Thursday night, Courtney Moses and KK Houser were driving to the grocery store together. Out of the blue, an important topic arose for the two Purdue seniors.

"We were talking about how many games we had left, and how we had to get going," said Moses.

A talented Purdue team has seen its ups and downs just past the midway point of the season. Fresh off an embarrassing home loss to Michigan, the Boilermakers were eager for the next game, the chance to keep their season from going off the tracks.

That's exactly what Purdue did on Friday night, routing the rival Indiana Hoosiers, 86-53. The game wasn't even as close as the score would indicate.

"Forty-six hours later, we look like the Purdue basketball team that we looked like at Penn State," head coach Sharon Versyp said after the game. "We knew we had to respond. We had good practices. When we practice well, we play well."

Purdue had played to its inconsistent form through much of the first half, falling behind 25-24 after a pair of Hoosier three-pointers. A frustrated Versyp called a timeout and didn't say a word in the team huddle. All the coach did was offer a mean glare.

"I just looked at coach and knew she wasn't very pleased," Houser said.

The message was received. Purdue responded with a 50-12 run, sparked by Moses and Houser, the team's senior leaders.

Moses led all scorers with 24 points on 10-of-14 shooting, while Houser was right behind her with 22 points. During this remarkable run, it was Moses and Houser constantly scoring at ease. There wasn't much Indiana could do to contain them, not when the motivation factor was this high.

"They're the leaders of this team, and they willed us all the way home to this victory," freshman forward Whitney Bays said.

Added Houser: "We came together and were just on top of everything. … We were on the same page and ready to extend the lead."

Had Versyp not pulled the starters for much of the second half, the Boilermakers would've waltzed their way to 100 points.

This was the kind of game needed for a Purdue team desperately searching for consistency. A dominating, commanding blowout of the hated rival could serve as more than just one win; it's the type of effort and morale boost that propels a team forward.

Purdue can move past its losses in nonconference play to top teams like Stanford and Duke, and can bury the defeats from Ohio State, Northwestern, and the most recent blunder against Michigan. The Boilermakers can become rejuvenated by this important victory, taking the momentum into a critical stretch of Big Ten games.

"We just take it day by day," Versyp said. "I'm not looking to February; I'm looking at tomorrow."

Perhaps the seniors would disagree with this philosophy. For Moses and Houser, their decorated Purdue careers are fast approaching the finish line.

The talent is in place, the work ethic is there. On Thursday night in that drive to the grocery store, the switch flipped on.

These Boilermakers are eager to continue their winning ways.

Chris Emma has covered recruiting, college athletics and professional baseball for FOX Sports Next since 2009. Emma covered the Nebraska Cornhuskers and Northwestern Wildcats, and currently covers the Purdue Boilermakers. A Chicago native, he resides in West Lafayette.
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