WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Katie Gearlds scored 24 points and tied a career-high with 12 rebounds to help No. 13 Purdue beat Illinois 69-57 Thursday night.
Lindsay Wisdom-Hylton had 19 points and three blocks, and FahKara Malone added 14 points and eight steals for the Boilermakers (21-4, 10-1 Big Ten).Lacey Simpson scored 12 points and Lori Bjork and Chelsea Gordon had 11 apiece for Illinois (16-7, 6-5), which was looking for a quality win to bolster its NCAA Tournament hopes. The Fighting Illini haven't beaten a ranked team this season.Gearlds scored just two points in the first 15 minutes, but was hot for the rest of the game. She made nine of 18 shots, including three 3-pointers.The Boilermakers forced 21 turnovers and had 13 steals.Illinois took a 41-40 lead on a 3-pointer by Gordon with 8:46 left, but Purdue responded with a 7-0 run that included a 3-pointer by Gearlds.Illinois cut Purdue's lead to three points twice after that, but got no closer. Purdue's Erin Lawless hit a contested 3-pointer as the shot clock went off to give the Boilermakers a 61-52 lead with 1:47 left.Illinois took a 19-18 lead on a 3-pointer by Bjork with 3:14 left in the first half, but Gearlds scored five points in a 7-0 Purdue run to help the Boilermakers take a 25-19 lead at the break. The teams shot a combined 18-for-56 from the field in the first 20 minutes.