WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Whitney Bays scored 20 points and Courtney Moses added 12 as Purdue routed Akron 84-55 in the first round of the NCAA tournament on Saturday.
It proved to be a milestone day for the Boilermakers (22-8). Moses tied the school's career record for 3s. She made two, giving her 238 — the same total Katie Gearlds had during her All-American career. The win also gave coach Sharon Versyp her 300th career win, and it set up a Monday night showdown between the fourth-seeded Boilermakers, who have won 11 of 13, and fifth-seeded Oklahoma State.
The Cowgirls advanced with a 61-60 overtime win over 12th-seeded Florida Gulf Coast.
Akron (23-10), the Mid-American Conference champion, was led by Rachel Tecca with 18 points and Hanna Luburgh with nine in its first ever NCAA tourney game.
It wasn't nearly enough.
Purdue broke to a 20-2 lead, scored the first six points of the second half and never let the Zips get closer than 14.
Akron came into the game with 16 wins in 17 games and the nation's No. 9 scoring offense.
But the Zips sure didn't live up to the billing.
Whether it was frayed nerves or Purdue's defensive focus, Akron's shooters never really get in sync and the Boilermakers made them pay a hefty price.
Moses knocked down both of her 3-pointers in the opening flurry and Dee Dee Williams closed the run with another 3 to make it 20-2 just 4:31 into the game.
That's when the Zips finally got started. They went on a 13-6 run to close to 30-20, and rallied again after the Boilermakers extended the lead to 39-24. That 10-5 spurt got Akron back within 44-34 in the final minute of the first half.
They never got any closer.
The Boilermakers scored the final basket of the half to make it 46-34, matching their second-highest first half scoring total of the season, then opened the second half with six straight points. The 8-0 spurt left Akron in a 52-34 hole with 18:11 to go — too big a deficit for even the usually efficient Zips.
Akron shot just 31.1 percent from the field and finished with a season-low point total. Tecca, the MAC tourney's MVP, limped off the floor with 12:36 left but returned later. The senior forward finished her career as Akron's all-time scoring leader with 2,317 points.
Purdue is now 20-1 in first-round games and 20-7 all-time in NCAA games on its home court.