The Purdue women’s basketball team is going dancing. For the first time since 2016-17 season, the Boilermakers heard their named called on the ESPN NCAA Tournament Selection Sunday Show to head to their 27th NCAA Tournament in program history. Purdue will open its March Madness run on Thursday in the First Four as an 11 seed against 11th-seeded St. John’s on ESPN2. Tipoff from Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio, is set for 7pm.
The winner of Thursday’s matchup will take on No. 6 North Carolina on Saturday. Site host 3rd-seeded Ohio will face No. 14 seed James Madison in the nightcap. The winners of the two games will meet on Monday.
Head coach Katie Gearlds and the Boilermakers are 19-10 on the year and went 9-8 in Big Ten play, Purdue’s first winning record in league play since the 2017-18 campaign. Much of Purdue’s success in the Big Ten was on the road as five league victories came away from Mackey Arena. Two of those road wins were against No. 21 Illinois and No. 2 Ohio State, the latter being Purdue’s first ever true road win against an AP Top-5 opponent. Gearlds joined Purdue greats Lin Dunn and Carolyn Peck as the only head coaches in program history to improve the Boilermakers’ win total in each of their first two seasons.
Senior Jeanae Terry was tabbed Second Team All-Big Ten by the league’s coaches and Big Ten All-Defensive Team by the media after averaging 6.7 points, 7.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Terry, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark and Notre Dame’s Olivia Miles are the only players in the country to average over six points, rebounds and assists this season. Fellow senior Abbey Ellis garnered Big Ten honorable mention status after scoring in double figures in 10 league games.
Transfers Lasha Petree and Caitlyn Harper made their impact in their first season in West Lafayette, combining to average 24.8 points per game, led by Petree’s team-high 14.5 points per night. Fifth-year senior Cassidy Hardin delayed her start to medical school to return to Purdue for a final campaign with the goal of reaching the NCAA Tournament.
The Boilermakers are 47-25 in their previous 26 NCAA Tournament appearances. The 1999 NCAA National Champions, Purdue is the only team from the Big Ten to win a national title in women’s basketball. The Boilermakers’ trio of Final Four appearances is also a Big Ten record. Purdue is an 11 seed for the second time in program history, following the 2016 tournament. It will be the Boilermakers’ first appearance in the First Four. Purdue is 26-12 all-time on neutral floors in the NCAA Tournament.
The Boilermakers and Red Storm have met just once before in the Paradise Jam in 2018. St. John’s edged Purdue 68-62.