Purdue matched the Louisville women on the Cardinals' home floor for 34 minutes. The final 5:33 of the first half proved to be too much.
The Boilermakers couldn't keep pace in that stretch as the Cardinals seized control Tuesday night in handing Purdue a 76-63 second-round loss in the NCAA tournament.
Fourth-seeded Purdue (25-9) trailed 18-16 when Louisville forward Monique Reid fell to her stomach to collect an offensive rebound and shoved it out to teammate Shoni Schimmel on the perimeter. Schimmel's 3-pointer and another on the next possession with 5:01 left in the half sparked a 20-5 Louisville run that changed the tenor of the game.
"Most teams have spurts, whether it's a 10-0 run, 13-0 run," Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said. "For them, we gave them the ball a couple times real easily. They were able to push the tempo a little bit. We didn't execute and we didn't get to the offensive boards."
KK Houser hit a jumper with 8 seconds left to pull Purdue to 38-23 at halftime. The damage was already done as six Purdue turnovers to end the half provided the momentum for Louisville.
The Boilermakers lost in the second round for the third straight year. They hosted the opening rounds of the tournament last year but couldn't get by South Carolina and lost at Connecticut in 2011.
"When you play on home courts, some people can upset people," Versyp said. "Some people can't. With Louisville, it was their night tonight."
The Boilermakers struggled early, missing their first nine shots. Courtney Moses, Purdue's leading scorer at 13.5 points a game, took more than 30 minutes to hit her first basket, a 3-pointer with 9:27 left.
"They just chased her," Purdue forward Sam Ostarello said of the Cardinals' defense against Moses. "It was very hard to get her open on the wings or anywhere, really."
Moses hit five 3s in Purdue's opening round 77-43 win over Liberty. She finished with seven points.
Ostarello led Purdue with 16 points on 7 of 11 shooting and had 12 rebounds. She finished her career with 901 rebounds, the second woman in Purdue history to top 900. Houser finished with 10 points.
With Louisville men's coach Rick Pitino helping to lead cheers and throwing up the "L," the Cardinals (26-8) advanced to the round of 16 for the fourth time in six years — all under coach Jeff Walz.
"Right now we're just excited to be heading to Oklahoma City for the Sweet 16," Louisville forward Sara Hammond said.
Hammond scored 21 points and had 10 rebounds. Antonita Slaughter added 16, and Shoni Schimmel 14.
Louisville never trailed in beating Purdue for the first time in six games. These teams hadn't met since 1993, and the Cardinals' program has grown to a new level in the past two decades with this — a game that had Pitino in the stands as part of a very loud crowd of 9,236.
Louisville both outshot and outrebounded Purdue, and the Cardinals turned their 38-32 edge on the boards into 24 second-chance points. They also got 33 points off Purdue's 22 turnovers.
The Boilermakers started so sluggishly that nothing was going down, not even when Houser rolled a layup over the rim after a steal by Moses in the opening minutes.
"When you're not knocking down your shots right away, you always try and find a way," Houser said. "We were just trying to do it too quickly and forcing things that just weren't there."
They finally got their first bucket when Taylor Manuel scored on a layup with 15:34 left, and her second straight layup tied it up at 4 with 15:09 to go. Sherrone Vails hit a free throw with 14:48 left and put Louisville ahead to stay.
Another Manuel layup pulled Purdue within 18-16 with 6 minutes left, and that's when Louisville took control.
Houser missed a 3 with 43 seconds left that could have trimmed Louisville's lead to single digits. That was as close as the Boilermakers got.