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Women’s Basketball Falls To Purdue

Written by on November 17, 2021

Image courtesy of goredbirds.com

NORMAL, Ill. – The Redbirds fell to 1-2 in the 2021 season at Redbird Arena against the Purdue Boilermakers with a final score of 76-64.

“Anytime you can have a Big Ten opponent come to your home floor and compete against them is something special for these young women,” said Redbird Head Coach Kristen Gillespie.

The Birds jumped out to an early lead of 8-2 behind a pair of field goals from senior guard Juju Redmond, who finished the game with 9 points on the night.

After that point Purdue stormed back into the game with physical defense and points in the paint, as they gained a lead of 12-10. From there on the Boilermakers kept their foot on the gas pedal holding onto a lead for the remainder of the game holding a lead at all times of at least four points.

The Birds were able to match the intensity of the Boilermakers defensively, forcing 16 turnovers compared to Purdue’s 18. When it came to creating points off of those turnovers Purdue was able to edge out the birds 20-16.

“I had six turnovers,” said sophomore point-guard Maya Wong. “If coach is going to trust me to play like that… We practiced two days of that kind of pressure, so I can’t just have those six turnovers.”

Although Purdue had 6’6 center Ra Shaya Kyle in for the majority of the game, the Birds made the majority of their total team points in the paint. The Birds scored 34 of their 64 points from within the arc, outscoring the Purdue team 34-30 in this regard.

Another facet where the Birds outscored the Boilermakers was with their bench points, outscoring the Purdue bench 24-16.

“You’re only as good as your bench,” said Coach Gillespie. “We talk about that all the time. I don’t really care who starts the game, everyone has a role and it’s so critical that we embrace and embody our role.”

One of those players coming off the bench to contribute and one of the biggest offensive stars for the Birds tonight was senior guard Kayel Newland, who shot an impressive 89% true shooting percentage on the night, adding 12 total points on behalf of the Birds.

“I don’t know if there’s enough words to say how proud I am of her (Kayel),” said Coach Gillespie. “Kayel has worked herself into this success.”

It was a defensive battle of the boards between the two teams, as the Birds and Boilermakers went toe to toe posting 18 defensive rebounds to their 21. The Birds had a three-way tie for first when it came to rebounds, as Deanna Wilson, Jada Stinson and Kayel Newland posted six apiece.

A silver lining the Birds can look toward is their shooting consistency throughout the night, shooting 90.9% from the free-throw line, and a satisfactory 44.6% from the field.

“I thought we had some good looks too that if they went down… would they have changed things,” said Coach Gillespie. “There’s always going to be the what if’s.”

Something that isn’t recorded on the stat sheet at the end of the night is determination. The Birds continued to chip away at the Boilermakers lead and create turnovers all the way into the fourth with two minutes remaining in the match. Maya Wong jumped a pass from a Purdue player, and took it the length of the court for a contested layup, firing up the crowd and her teammates.

“We always talk about we want to play our best basketball going into March,” said Coach Gillespie. “I think we’re going to look back on this game and there will be so many great takeaways. I think in a couple weeks we’ll be so much better at so many things.”