West Lafayette, Ind. - Central Michigan fell to No. 17/19 Purdue in a contest that can best be described as a heavyweight title match with the winner delivering a knockout punch in the final round.
The Boilermakers (10-2) and Chippewas (4-7) combined to score 206 points inside Mackey Arena on Saturday afternoon in front of a crowd of 8,144 as the home squad came out on top, 109-97.
Junior Jessica Green led five CMU players in double figures with a season-high 24 points and senior Niki DiGuilio brought her career total to 999 with 21 points, but it was not enough as Purdue had four players score 20-plus points as it shot 57.8 percent (37-for-64) from the floor.
The Chippewas shot 50 percent (37-for-74) to score the second-most points allowed by the Boilermakers this season, but each time it appeared as if the momentum was in their favor, Purdue responded with another punch.
Purdue grabbed its first double-digit lead of the second half with 13:52 to play when April Wilson finished in transition for a 75-64 lead. The Chippewas responded with a 7-0 run over the next 1:54 thanks in part to steals by senior Taylor Johnson on three-straight possessions and a triple by DiGuilio with 11:58 to play to pull within four, 75-71.
The deficit was five for CMU after a pair of free throws by sophomore Da'Jourie Turner out of the under-eight media timeout, but senior KK Houser hit a triple and Whitney Bays scored three the hard way to extend Purdue's lead back to double digits, 95-84.
Again CMU responded, refusing to go down without a few punches of its own. Junior Crystal Bradford scored back-to-back layups and Green hit a jumper in the lane to pull the Maroon and Gold within five, 98-93, with 2:48 to play, but senior Courtney Moses delivered the knockout blow soon after.
Moses pushed the lead to 101-93 on the first of three-straight three-point field goals that sealed the 109-97 victory.
Senior Jordan LaDuke started in place of Bradford, who was battling the stomach flu, finishing with a season-high 11 points, six rebounds and four assists. Junior Jas'Mine Bracey and Bradford each had 10 points, while Bradford led CMU with eight boards.
The Chippewas are back in action Monday evening when they close the calendar year at Dayton. CMU defeated the Flyers on Dec. 5, 94-91. Tipoff is set for 7.