WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Minnesota outscored Purdue, 20-2, in the fourth quarter en route to a 65-45 win Thursday night at Mackey Arena.
The victory was the fifth straight in league play for the Golden Gophers (18-7, 7-7 B1G), marking their longest such streak since Feb. of 2015 and tied for the sixth longest in program history. All five wins have come against teams that were higher in the standings than Minnesota at the time of the game.
The 20-point win tied for their largest victory ever at Purdue (16-11, 7-7) for Minnesota, matching a 58-38 win on Jan. 13, 2005. Combined with a win last year in West Lafayette, it’s also the first time since 1985 that Minnesota has won two in a row at Purdue.
Sophomore Destiny Pitts led all scorers with 27 points. She scored 23 of her 27 points in the second half, including 14 in the fourth quarter alone. That’s the highest scoring total by a Gopher in any quarter this year. Pitts was an ultra-efficient 10-of-12 from the field, including 2-of-3 on 3-pointers, while also making 5-of-6 at the free throw line. She also tied a season high with seven rebounds.
It was the latest in a string of strong performances for the Detroit, Mich., native. She had 21 points in an overtime win over Northwestern on Sunday and is averaging a team-best 19.4 points per game over the last seven contests. In that time, she’s shooting 46.2 percent on field goals and 44.9 percent on 3-pointers.
Senior Kenisha Bell also reached double figures with 17 points, going over the 1,600 point total at Minnesota in the process. She added a game-high nine rebounds and led the team with four assists and three steals.
As a team, Minnesota shot 50 percent (24-for-48) from the field, its best shooting performance in conference play this year. Meanwhile, the only team that held Purdue to fewer points this year was Connecticut (40). The Gophers also outrebounded the Boilermakers, 36-24, holding Purdue to its lowest rebound total this year.
Leading 45-43 through three quarters, Minnesota dominated Purdue in the fourth, limiting the Boilermakers to the lowest point total in a quarter by any opponent this year. Purdue missed all 11 shots from the field in the quarter, while Minnesota was 7-of-12. Eight of Purdue’s 18 turnovers in the game also came in the final frame.
Pitts got the fourth started with a personal 5-0 run, including a 3-pointer. After the first of Purdue’s two made free throws in the quarter, Minnesota rattled off five more points. Purdue’s final point in the game came on a free throw with 4:45 to play, making it a 10-point game at 55-45..
Senior Irene Garrido Perez then provided the proverbial dagger when she buried a 3-pointer in the corner to push the Minnesota lead to 13. Pitts followed that by scoring back-to-back uncontested layups, first thanks to a steal by Bell and then a defensive rebound and outlet pass from junior Jasmine Brunson. At that point, the Gophers led 62-45 with 1:45 remaining in the game.
The fourth-quarter blowout came in stark contrast to a first half in which neither team led by more than five points. Purdue held a 15-10 lead with just over a minute left in the first quarter, but Minnesota countered with a 6-0 run that carried into the second quarter.
There were three ties and three lead changes in the second quarter. Minnesota got up by as many as four at 25-21, but a 3-pointer from Purdue’s Karissa McLaughlin cut the lead to one with 30 seconds left in the half. McLaughlin entered the game as Purdue’s leading scorer at 15.6 points per game, but she was held to just 10 Thursday and was shut out in the second half.
McLaughlin wasn’t the only one affected by Minnesota’s defense as Dominique Oden was held to eight points despite averaging 15.3 entering the contest.
Minnesota led 27-24 at the half, but Purdue opened the second half on a 6-0 run. Pitts stopped the run, though, with a 3-pointer, the first of the game for Minnesota, to even the game at 30-30. Midway through the third, the Boilermakers held a 38-34 lead, but Minnesota embarked on an 11-2 run to take control of the game.
The momentum-shifting play seemed to come with 3:09 left in the third when senior Annalese Lamke converted a 3-point play to put the Golden Gophers ahead for good. In total, the Gophers ended the game on a 31-7 run.
Minnesota returns to Williams Arena on Sunday to host Penn State for the team’s annual Pink Game at 1:00.