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No. 8 Purdue downs Penn State to stay atop Big Ten

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- During halftime of a tight game,
Purdue coach Kristy Curry told her team in the locker room to stay
calm and get ready for another run from underdog Penn State.

Curry's team heeded her advice.

Katie Gearlds scored 17 points and the eighth-ranked
Boilermakers capitalized on Penn State's sloppy play early in the
second half on their way to a 72-61 victory on Sunday.

Purdue put together a 21-5 run at the start of the second half
to break open a close matchup.

"Coach told us they're going to keep coming at us, and you need
to come out in the second half showing what we did in the first
half," Purdue guard Shareka Webb said. "Just get the job done
early."

Webb had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists for Purdue
(18-3, 10-1), which stayed atop the Big Ten race with the win. The
Boilermakers had to overcame a career-high 29 points from Amanda
Brown, who shot 12-of-14 from the field and had her way in the
paint.

"It's hard. Things were open for me tonight, but obviously we
didn't win," Brown said. "It's nothing great."

Leading 34-30 at the half, Purdue opened their decisive run with
a couple of jumpers, followed by a three-point play from Lindsay
Wisdom-Hylton. Aya Traore closed the spurt with a layup after
stealing the ball from Mashea Williams to give Purdue a 55-35 lead
with about 13 minutes remaining.

Williams, a freshman, scored six points and had eight of Penn
State's 18 turnovers on the afternoon. She handled the ball a lot
after the starting point guard, freshman Brianne O'Rourke, got into
foul trouble.

The Boilermakers then got sloppy, too. Penn State (10-12, 4-7)
forced some turnovers and Charity Renfro's straightaway 3-pointer
with the shot clock winding down got the Lady Lions within 65-56
with more than 4 minutes left in the game.

But Penn State then had trouble getting off a good shot and
Purdue hit its free throws late. Lady Lions coach Rene Portland
said Purdue focused its attention on defense on Penn State rallied.

"To get it back to nine was a good thing, but I also think
Purdue relaxed when they got it so far ahead, and we were able to
capitalize on that," Portland said.

Brown added eight rebounds to lead the Lady Lions, while Renfro
added eight points and five boards. Penn State's leading scorer,
Kamela Gissendanner, was held to 11 points on 5-of-16 shooting.

Curry said during her halftime speech she focused on the
importance of the second half to Purdue's conference title hopes.

"We talked about its 20 minutes and today really matters a
whole bunch," Curry said. "And it's a sense of urgency and the
fact that if you want to compete for a Big Ten title, this can't
happen today. We can't lose today."

Down 11-4 early in the first half, Penn State got back in the
game with good defense and inside buckets from Brown.

Williams blocked Shareka Webb from behind to prevent a fastbreak
layup. A block by Gissendanner led to a Brown layup, then Brown put
in an offensive rebound on the next possession to cap the Lady
Lions' 17-4 run that gave them a 21-15 lead midway through the
first half.

Penn State squandered its next couple possessions with bad
passes, Purdue picked up its defense and Danielle Campbell hit a
15-footer as time expired in the first half to give the
Boilermakers their four-point lead at the break.