Coming into the Gulf Coast Championship game, Purdue’s defense had held their two opponents to under 30 percent from the floor. In Sunday’s title game, it was Gonzaga’s defense that shined once again, as they forced 21 turnovers and handed Purdue their first loss of the season in an impressive 63-50 victory. Gonzaga returns home to Spokane with a 6-1 record and should be ranked in the top 20 on Monday morning.
The Bulldogs stifled the Boilermakers from the opening tip. Purdue was held to just 20 first half points and Gonzaga led by 11 heading to the locker room. In the second half, Purdue chipped away as best they could, and even cut the lead to five with seven minutes remaining. But then the Zags held them scoreless for the next five minutes and put the game away. Purdue did not have a single player in double figures.
Melody Kempton was the star on Sunday. She led all scorers with a career-high 18 points off the bench along with six rebounds. Jenn Wirth struggled a bit from the field, but her sister LeeAnne Wirth picked up the slack, scoring 12 points. Jesse Loera added 12 points to go with her four assists, three steals, and zero turnovers in 30 minutes in perhaps her best game of the season.
Turnovers were really the key to the game. Despite winning the first two games of the tournament, the Bulldogs committed 37 turnovers. On Sunday, they had just eight. They were able to score 26 points off Purdue’s 21 turnovers and that difference helped offset a 1-for-12 performance from deep.
Gonzaga returns home to take on Montana State on Thursday before taking the drive over to Pullman to face the Cougs on Sunday.