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Saturday, July 20, 2019

This Week in the Big Ten: And Then There Was One—Purdue Rules Big Ten Roost ... for the Moment

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Photo Caption: Penn State’s Alex Bentley (White, No. 20) had one of her best games of the season last weekend on the road at Nebraska. Bentley notched 23 points, five boards, four steals and three assists, second only to teammate Maggie Lucas’ game-high 24 points, in helping the Lady Lions avenge its December loss to the Nebraska in University Park with a 93-73 beat-down of the Huskers on their own home floor in Lincoln, Nebraska on Monday, Jan. 15.

Photo Credit: Courtesy Penn State Athletics Communications

By Mark Bradford

And then there was one.

At least for the moment.

Purdue sits atop the Big Ten, the sole remaining undefeated team in league play after five games. But before the Boilermaker fans go high-fiving each other, they need to look at whom they have played.

Better yet, take a look at the teams they have not played. Purdue has gone through the weaker portion of its schedule and will most likely be 6-0 after their upcoming game at Indiana. Their next opponent, Michigan State, will be at Mackey, but it will be the first game against any of the other teams in the Big Ten’s top 5.

As for last weekend’s action, Sunday was “cut-down” day. Iowa almost upended Purdue, but Penn State did upend Nebraska—big time—in Lincoln. Then Ohio State got the best of Michigan State.

February will be a wild month in the league with as many as eight clubs having a really good chance to do some damage if they can catch the momentum. Only Northwestern, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Indiana appear to be undermanned this year.

Looking ahead, for the first time this season, on Thursday, all 12 teams will compete on the same day. Are we having fun yet?

Let’s turn to our review of the weekend’s highlights, the current standings and our predictions for Thursday’s Big Ten contests.

Summing Up the Weekend’s Results

Sunday, Jan. 15, 2012

  • Minnesota 57 @ Michigan 61
  • Iowa 55 @ No. 17/20 Purdue 57
  • NR/No. 25 Penn State 93 @ No.15/23 Nebraska 73
  • No. 11/13 Ohio State 64 @ Michigan State 56

Monday, Jan. 16, 2012

  • Illinois 58 @ Northwestern 59


A Look Back at the Weekend’s Action: Results from January 15-16


  • Minnesota 57 @ Michigan 61—Turnovers Not Tasty for Minnesota
    Minnesota turned the ball over eight times in the first 10 minutes as the Michigan Wolverines burst out to a 19-12 lead, 11 of those points off the turnovers. Meanwhile, freshman phenom Rachel Banham scored 15 of Minnesota’s first 19 points on her way to a career-high 28. Michigan coach Kevin Borseth’s team plays nose-to-nose defense and it proved a little too real in the first half as Wolverines guard Jenny Ryan took a charge and ended up with a short-term bloody nose. ”All of us are athletes,” Ryan said of her speedy return to action.  “We all want to get back on the floor.” Minnesota crawled back and was down only by one, 31-30, at halftime. The Gophers started the second half on a 12-2 run, fueled by second-chance points and three-pointers by Banham, who was six-for-six from the arc at this point in the game. Michigan responded by stepping up its defense, especially on Banham. The Wolverines’ effort paid off they held Banham to just two points for the last 14 minutes. Meanwhile, the Wolverines sped off on a 22-3 run late in the game to set the score at 57-49. Minnesota battled back, but the Gophers’ Katie Loberg missed a critical eight-footer with 25 seconds to go, while Michigan’s Carmen Reynolds knocked down two key free-throws to seal the game.   Rachel Sheffer led Michigan in the victory with 20 points.   By game’s end, Minnesota had committed 22 turnovers, making this the fourth straight game in which Michigan forced 20 or more turnovers by its opponent. “We went to a zone to guard Banham, and fortunately we had the kids in the right spots,” said Michigan coach Kevin Borseth. “We want to get in the NCAA [Tournament] and we have to strap it up every game.”

  • Iowa 55 @ No. 17/20 Purdue 57 – Rayburn Wins Any Way She Can

    This one went down to the wire before Brittany Rayburn, who finished with 14 points and seven boards, pulled down the rebound from teammate Alex Guyton’s missed free throw with the score tied at 55 apiece and 18 seconds remaining. Iowa opted to foul in an effort to regain possession, putting Rayburn at the line, where she hit two of her own in the final seconds to win the game. Iowa fell behind early when forward Morgan Johnson (16 points, five rebounds) took a tumble under her own basket with about 12 minutes to go in the first half and her team down, 17-13. While the trainer worked fervently on Johnson’s left ankle, her teammates fought to hold Purdue at bay. Johnson returned six minutes later with Purdue now ahead, 27-13. But with Johnson back on the floor, Iowa closed the half with a 15-5 run that cut the Purdue lead to 32-28 at halftime. Iowa came out with a 9-0 run to open the second half and at one point had Purdue down by five before the Boilermakers tightened their defense and built a 46-39 edge with 11:00 to go. The two teams battled back and forth the rest of the way. In the end, it was a missed block-out by Iowa and Rayburn’s aggressiveness that won the game. “It’s hard to win when the other team has 24 offensive rebounds and Purdue got to the line better than we did,” Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said afterward. “Purdue takes great pride in their defense and they have great help. Purdue has a lot of depth and our depth is banged up a lot. It is draining when we get that banged up. Obviously we struggled when Morgan [Johnson] went out of the game.”

  • NR/No. 25 Penn State 93 @ No.15/23 Nebraska 73— Big Win on the road for Lady Lions

    The Huskers, who had handled Penn State on the on the Lions’ home floor readily in the first conference meeting between the two teams, taking away a 71-63 win in December, looked ready to repeat the feat at home. They started out early on a 14-5 run and were still leading, 44-38, at halftime. But Penn State battled back in the second half to take a 10-point lead, 58-48, with ten minutes remaining. What happened after that almost defies explanation. With Nebraska having to work from behind, the Lions took control of the pace, establishing the up-tempo game they favor and running it to perfection. Penn State scored 55 points in the second half alone. Penn State shot 54 percent from the field for the game, including an impressive 60.6 percent in the second half, while holding Nebraska to just 38 percent. And Penn State killed ‘em on the boards, 43-24, including 10 off the offensive glass. All five PSU starters recorded double-figure scores, as Maggie Lucas led the way with 24 points and six rebounds. Alex Bentley added 23 and five boards, plus three assists and five steals, while Zhaque Gray contributed 19 points and six boards. Nikki Greene and Mia Nickson chipped in 12 points each. Nebraska’s Lindsey Moore scored 18, Emily Cady 17 and Jordan Hooper 13 in the Huskers’ first-ever Big-Ten loss.

  • No. 11/13 Ohio State 64 @ Michigan State 56 —Big Crowd, Big Loss Ohio State found itself in a fight early against Michigan State as both teams had trouble putting the ball into the bucket. However a 9-0 Ohio State run at the end of the first half gave the Buckeyes a 28-21 edge at the break. The Buckeyes extended their lead to 40-29 in the first six minutes of the second period, and then set about the task of defending their advantage. But spurred on by a home crowd of 14,000 fans—the third-largest crowd in Breslin Center history—the Spartans succeeded in whittling the deficit to three with just under six minutes to go. An in-your-face three-pointer by Tayler Hill with 5:19 to go took the steam out of the Spartans’ momentum, though Porcha Phillips did manage to close the gap to three with a layup at the 2:54 mark. However, the Spartans would come no closer, as couple of key offensive rebounds (the Buckeyes’ first of the second half) and steady foul-shooting down the stretch finished things off. The best guard scoring duo in the nation—Ohio State’s Samantha Prahalis (15 points) and Hill (21 points), who together average 39 points per game—did not disappoint in this outing, combining for a total of 36. Courtney Schiffauer (12 points, five rebounds, three assists) and Lykendra Johnson (10 points, seven rebounds) led the Spartans in their first Big Ten conference defeat. That left the Purdue Boilers, the league’s sole remaining undefeated team in Big Ten play, to take sole possession of first place in the Big Ten Conference race.

  • Illinois 58 @ Northwestern 59— Rosen Wins It for the Wildcats

    It was another heartbreaking loss for Illinois, a team that leads the league in heartbreak. In this one, Northwestern’s Carly Rosen nailed a free-throw with four seconds remaining to seal a one-point win for the Wildcats. It was quite a contest, featuring the longstanding in-state rivalry in the conference and two teams both desperately seeking a victory. Northwestern has excellent passing and uses all five of its players. Illinois has the quickness advantage over the Wildcats. Neither team knows how to win the tough ones, yet. Illinois was playing without the services of red-shirt sophomore Kersten Magrum, who averages 14.5 points per game, and and is out with a concussion, but the Illini were nonetheless able to hang with the Wildcats. Northwestern led by just one at the half, 29-28. However, throughout the second perod, Northwestern was able to maintain an average of a five-point separation, though Illinois was always within striking distance. With four-and-a-half minutes to go, Northwestern’s freshman forward Dannielle Diamant (16 points) fouled out with her team ahead by one, 50-49. Wildcat Kendall Hackney (12 pts, 9 rebounds) nailed a three-pointer to stretch the score to 53-49, but Illinois fought back to tie the score at 58 on an Amber Moore trey with just 12 seconds remaining. But with four ticks left on the clock, Illinois’s Ivory Crawford fouled Northwestern’s Rosen, putting her at the line where she hit one of her two penalty shots for the win.

    Current Standings

    As of January 18, 2012
    Standing Team Conference Pct.   Overall Pct.
    1. Purdue 5-0 1.000   15-3 .833
    2. Ohio State 4-1 .800   17-1 .944
    3. Nebraska 4-1 .800   15-2 .882
    4. Michigan State 4-1 .800   12-6 .667
    5. Michigan 3-2 .600   14-4 .778
    6. Penn State 3-2 .600   13-4 .765
    7. Northwestern 2-3 .400   12-6 .667
    8. Iowa 2-3 .400   10-8 .556
    9. Minnesota 2-3 .400   10-9 .526
    10. Wisconsin 1-4 .200   5-12 .294
    11. Illinois 0-5 .000   6-12 .333
    12. Indiana 0-5 .000   5-13 .278


    Source: BigTen.org/Women’s Basketball Standings


    Coming Up Thursday, January 19

    Editor’s Note: Full Court’s Big Ten correspondent Mark Bradford went 3-5 in his predictions this weekend, putting him at 23 correct calls out of 30 games for the Big Ten conference season.


    No. 15/23 NEBRASKA

    No. 11/13 OHIO STATE


    There is little question that Ohio State is vulnerable this year in the paint but getting past the Buckeyes guards is a daunting task for any team. Prahalis is possibly the best emotional leader in the conference as the “girl who refuses to lose” and the Buckeyes will miss her energy next year. Tayler Hill could play anywhere in the country. She is a natural player without the obvious angst that bedevils Prahalis.

    But can Ohio State win against the top-tier teams without additional support?  This game can provide part of the answer.

    Nebraska certainly qualifies as top-tier. Its loss to Penn State in front of a raucous Husker crowd last weekend,was more a function of the Lady Lions having the best half of their season than a structural roster issue.

    Prediction: Nebraska has the physical talent of Ohio State. On a neutral site, Nebraska wins. In Columbus, I think Nebraska wins, too. Barnburner alert: Nebraska by one.

    When:  Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, 6:00 p.m. EST, Value City Arena, Columbus, Ohio (BTN)

    RV/No. 25 PENN STATE



    The win-loss records make this game look like a Penn State blowout. But not so fast.  Penn State played its best half of the season in its Sunday win over Nebraska. Illinois has been snake-bitten and lost another close one at Northwestern. The Illini are not a bad team, they just are not winning. Yet. At some time this season, as they proved with their Cinderella run in last year’s Big Ten tournament, Illinois will break through and start winning.

    Prediction: I don’t think it will be this game.   Penn State will have a battle on its hands, but will ultimately win by five.

    When:  Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, 8:00 p.m. EST/7:00 p.m. CST, Assembly Hall, Champaign, Ill.

    No. 17/20 PURDUE



    Quite honestly, this looks like a walkover for Purdue, even on Indiana’s home floor. Sharon Versyp needs to develop a better inside game if her team is going to go deep into the tournament. The real hard part of the Big Ten season for Purdue will comee in February when they meet the heavyweights. Beating teams like Indiana and Iowa is absolutely required for good seeding.

    Purdue’s guard trio of Brittany Rayburn (this week’s Big Ten and USBWA National Player of the Week), Courtney Moses and KK Houser may just be the best overall in the Big Ten, despite the quickness advantage that the Ohio State guards have.

    Prediction: Indiana has too many holes to fill to give them a chance against a driven Boilermaker team that knows how to win. Purdue by 10+.

    When: Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, 8:00 p.m. EST, 7:00 p.m. EST, Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind. (BTN)



    Hard to say any game is a must-win this early in the season, but most games from here on out are must-wins for Iowa. The Hawkeyes plowed through a rough early conference schedule and now must put together a win streak to get some notice when NCAA Tournament selection time rolls around.

    Wisconsin is getting better every game, barely losing to Nebraska after defeating Illinois, so this is not an automatic win for Lisa Bluder’s snake-bitten team. Iowa’s Jaime Printy (17.7 ppg) and Morgan Johnson (15.2 points and 6.2 rebounds rebounds) will be the best players on the floor. But Wisconsin’s Taylor Wurtz (15.6 points, 7.6 rebounds) will most likely neutralize Johnson inside.

    Prediction: Home court-advantage indicates Iowa by five. Besides, Wisconsin has 300 turnovers to 192 assists this season, and that is ... not a good thing.

    When: Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, 8:00 p.m. EST/7:00 p.m. EST, Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa City, Iowa




    The Golden Gophers need to get more scoring support for Banham as Michigan used a zone and shut her off when Minnesota led by 10. With no one else scoring, Minnesota went down fast. Little doubt Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant has seen that tape.

    Banham averages 15.5 points per game, while the Spartans’ Kiara Buford tosses in 13.3 on average, so at best, the two are likely to offset one another.

    Michigan State is dead set on defending its Big Ten regular-season title and has the talent to do it. Minnesota has trouble handling the ball and Michigan State likes to steal it. In fact, Minnesota has 309 turnovers to only 209 assists so far this season. Meanwhile, MSU averages 10 steals a game and forces 19 turnovers.

    The key for Michigan State will be to either shut down Banham or let her get her points and shut off the rest.

    Prediction: Either way, MSU wins by five.

    When: Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, 8:00 p.m. EST/7:00 p.m. CST, Williams Arena, Minneapolis, Minn. (Gopher All-Access)




    Michigan Coach Kevin Borseth undoubtedly knows the importance of putting away this eminently winnable game on the road as his team heads to Evanston. Michigan’s stated goal is to get to the NCAA Tournament and his team’s win over Ohio State pumps up his resume. However, the Wolverines now must beat teams like the Wildcats to keep smudges off the resume.

    Michigan has defeated its opponents by an average score of 65-57 and force an average of 18 turnovers. Courtney Boylan (13.5) and Rachel Sheffer (12.6) lead the team in scoring.

    Northwestern has four players averaging over 10 points a game but its preseason schedule was deceptively soft. The Wildcats are another team that always seem to be a few shots away from a “W”, but are having trouble finding that game-makngs shot. 

    Prediction: Michigan will win this one by five.

    When: Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, 8:00 p.m. EST/7:00 p.m. CST, Welsh-Ryan Arena, Evanston, Ill. (BTDN)


    Originally published Thu, January 19, 2012

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Week: February 7, 2012
1 Baylor (31) 24-0 1 1 1 775
2 Notre Dame 23-1 2 2 2 743
3 Connecticut 21-2 3 4 3 710
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Others receiving votes: St. Bonaventure (22-2) 34; North Carolina (17-6) 19; California (17-6) 18; Florida Gulf Coast (21-2) 16; Middle Tennessee (19-5) 15; Texas-El Paso (20-2) 8; Texas Tech (16-6) 5; Brigham Young (21-4) 4; Fresno State (19-4) 4; St. John's (15-8) 4; Princeton (15-4) 3; Oklahoma (15-7) 2; West Virginia (17-6) 2; Kansas State (15-7) 1.
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