Austin Parkinson returned to his alma mater as a head coach for the season opener, but his ladies fell flat in the second half, falling to No. 21 Purdue 75-45.
The Jaguars (0-1) came out of the gate ready to play, forcing three early turnovers and pushing Purdue to take four ugly shots in the early going. Neither team was able to score until Purdue hit a pair of free throws at 17:09. IUPUI’s Kerah Nelson scored first for the Jaguars on a nifty move under the hoop less than a minute later.
Nevena Markovic came off the bench after both Nelson and Clara Mitchell picked up early fouls, and the freshman’s impact was felt on the Purdue bench. Two possessions in a row, Markovic was left unguarded on the perimeter and she easily lifted two shots from three that found nothing but nylon waiting for them, bringing IUPUI within just two at 10-8.
IUPUI was able to hold their own until about the seven-minute mark of the first half. Purdue began finding ways to breakdown the Jaguar defense, and the shots IUPUI had been knocking down began to find iron and glass. Purdue extended their lead all the way to 28-15 before Mitchell got a layup to roll in to bring it back to 11 points.
Parkinson had his ladies fired up as the half ended, though. IUPUI scored the final seven points, including a third Markovic superhoop, to set the 28-22 halftime score.
"I was very impressed with Nevena," Parkinson said of his freshman forward. "She's very versatile inside and out, and to be able to step into this atmosphere and play with the confidence she did was impressive."
The locker room was excited at the proposition of an upset, and Nelson’s midrange pull-up jumper showed just how ready the ladies were. Unfortunately, Purdue responded with eight consecutive points of their own, kicked off by a monster block by Brittany Rayburn.
Just when things seemed to be going IUPUI’s way, Purdue went on a 9-0 run to push the score to 48-31, effectively sealing the Jaguar’s fate. IUPUI came within 16 around the five-minute mark, but would eventually fall in their season opener 75-45.
"I thought our kids really competed, and I was happy of our defensive effort," Parkinson noted after the game. "We kind of ran out of bodies late but I thought they did a nice job."
"We're not incredibly deep, and so we hit a wall in the second half. Purdue could keep running them out."
IUPUI next plays St. Francis (NY) at home Saturday, Nov. 19.
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.