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Purdue coach Versyp returns to Indiana to knock off former team

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- Sharon Versyp's emotions were working overtime.

Katie Gearlds scored 20 points, FahKara Malone added 15 and No. 13 Purdue beat Indiana 73-51 on Sunday in Versyp's first game against her former team and nine players she either coached or recruited last year.

"It's not an easy situation, but it is what it is," said Versyp, a former Purdue player in her first season coaching the Boilermakers after one year as the coach at Indiana.

"Those (Indiana) players play very hard, but I love Purdue. Black and gold is what I bleed," she said. "These young women here at Purdue have embraced everybody, our whole staff. I'm very fortunate to be here, to have this opportunity."

The Boilermakers (16-3, 5-0 Big Ten), who lost at Mackey Arena when Versyp was the Indiana coach a year ago, never trailed this time. The Hoosiers (13-6, 2-4) managed two early ties before a 3-pointer by Malone started an 11-3 run that put Purdue in front for good.

"In the second half, I came out and played a lot better," said Malone, who added 12 points after the break and finished with five rebounds and four steals. "I stopped making Katie do everything."

Gearlds, the Boilermakers' leading scorer, had 14 points in the first half, including four straight free throws late in the period and a basket that pushed Purdue's lead to 31-24. Two more foul shots by Erin Lawless with 57 seconds left put Purdue up 33-24 at the half, its biggest lead of the game to that point.

The Boilermakers continued widening their lead in the final period. A basket by Gearlds made it 53-37 midway through the period, and the Hoosiers never came closer than 12 points the rest of the way. The final score marked the biggest lead of the game.

Lawless finished with 14 points. Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton, who fouled out with 5 minutes to go, added nine points and nine rebounds for Purdue, and Danielle Campbell had eight points and a career-high 14 rebounds. Indiana was led by Nikki Smith with 13 points and Whitney Thomas with 10.

"It's just going out and playing like we would against any other person," Smith said. "It would be disrespectful to her to go out there and say, `Oh, my gosh, we're playing against our old coach.'

"Obviously, it's Purdue, it's our archrival," Smith said. "It's always a big game. If we came in here without any emotion at all, there's something wrong with us."

Versyp, who left Purdue in 1988 as the Boilermakers' second-leading career scorer, coached at Maine for five years before returning to her home state to coach the Hoosiers last season. She was 1-2 against Purdue -- including an overtime win in Mackey last February -- but after Kristy Curry left for Texas Tech, Versyp couldn't pass up the opportunity to return to her alma mater.

"Anytime you play Indiana, you want to beat them," Gearlds said. "When she was a player, she wanted to beat them. With them coming in here, they wanted to kick our butts, basically. It would be the same thing if we played Texas Tech. We'd want to kick Kristy's butt for leaving."

The win Sunday made her 10-0 in Purdue's home arena, with nine of the victories this season. It also kept the Boilermakers in first place in the Big Ten, a half-game ahead of No. 6 Ohio State.

"Our focus was there, our intensity was there. Our kids controlled what they could control," Indiana coach Felisha Legette-Jack said. "No disrespect to Sharon, coming or going, but these players came to Indiana to play for Indiana."