LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Courtney Moses scored 21 points, hitting 5 of 8 from three-point range, and fourth-seeded Purdue routed Liberty 77-43 Sunday in the opening round of the NCAA tournament.
The Boilermakers (25-8) improved to 19-1 in the first round with their 16th straight victory to open the tournament. They will play No. 5 seed Louisville in the second round Tuesday night of the Oklahoma City regional.
No. 13 seeded Liberty(27-7) hadn't played a Big Ten team since 2005 when the Lady Flames beat Penn State for their first NCAA tournament win. Liberty had the nation's best rebounding margin with a 17.5 edge per game, but couldn't beat Purdue on the boards in ending a 14-game winning streak.
Sam Ostarello had 10 points and 17 rebounds for Purdue. KK Houser added 15 points.
Devon Brown led Liberty with 21 points.
Purdue led 33-17 at halftime and was up by 35 late in the game as the Boilermakers won their fifth straight this season.
The Boilermakers came in ranked 21st after dominating on their way to their second straight Big Ten tournament title. They also are among the best shooters in the nation. Liberty ranked seventh nationally holding opponents to 33 percent shooting, and the Lady Flames had not allowed a team to hit 50 percent or better since a 92-60 loss at Baylor on Nov. 23, a streak of 28 games.
Purdue ended that streak too, shooting exactly 50 percent (26 of 52). Ostarello, the Big Ten rebounding leader, helped the Boilermakers grab a 40-38 edge on the boards. Liberty had a 13-7 edge on offensive boards but turned that into only six second-chance points.
Liberty's size advantage with four players 6-foot-2 or taller just didn't matter against the faster Boilermakers, who pushed the tempo from the opening tip.
The Lady Flames led only once at 10-9 on a three-pointer by Miller. Houser answered with a three-point play with 14:51 left, putting Purdue ahead to stay, the first of 11 straight points to push the Boilermakers' lead to double digits. Moses hit her fourth three of the first half, and April Wilson added a three in the final seconds giving Purdue a 33-17 halftime lead.
In the second half Liberty scored six straight points, the last on a jumper by Brown, to pull within 42-27 with 15:08 left. That was as close as they would get as Ostarello scored to start a 13-2 run building the lead even more.