Courtesy Former Homestead star Karissa McLaughlin has enjoyed a stellar freshman campaign at Purdue. She is averaging 10 points and has started 26 of 30 games for the Boilermakers.
Thursday, March 01, 2018 1:00 am
Ex-Spartan in familiar territory
McLaughlin back at Bankers Life for 1st time as Boilermaker
AUBREE REICHEL | The Journal Gazette
Purdue freshman Karissa McLaughlin has played in some pretty high-intensity games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Those, however, pale in comparison to what's to come in No. 8 seed Purdue's Big Ten Tournament opening-round game today against No. 9 seed Rutgers.
She last played on the Bankers Life floor a year ago when she led Homestead to its first girls basketball state championship, scoring 29 points in the title game.
She was later named Indiana's Miss Basketball.
“I definitely think (playing at a high-level program like Homestead) was beneficial,” McLaughlin said. “I definitely think (Homestead) prepared me quite a bit.
“You can only prepare so much until you get here and realize that your hard work has paid off. But you have to work harder, you have to show every single night, no matter what. I love this level, it's super competitive.”
McLaughlin is one of four freshmen on the Boilermakers' roster along with five sophomores, one junior and one senior.
“We definitely have a lot of youth, so having a senior like (Andreonna) Keys has helped us a lot to grow and mature as fast as we could,” McLaughlin said.
“(The upperclassmen) always said this is a new season and it's a clean slate, so this is time for us to bring everything together. We know it's going to be competitive in the Big Ten.”
With her Big Ten All-Freshman Team selection, McLaughlin became the 10th Boilermaker to be honored and the first since 2013 (Taylor Manuel).
McLaughlin is averaging 10 points and 3.6 assists and playing 32.4 minutes in all 30 games, starting 26. Her freshman minutes are second to coach Sharon Versyp's average of 34 in 1984-85.
McLaughlin has an active streak of 220 consecutive minutes played, believed to be the longest stretch by a player in program history.
“Karissa's been a key to our growth as a team, playing the point guard position,” Versyp said. “Her learning curve has just been immense. Early on she was scoring and understanding what we needed out of her to control our tempo. Then she learned how to distribute, and now she's doing both and understanding just being that leader on the floor.
“It's a grind right now. For freshmen, they hit a wall at times. She's been able to weather that really well.”
McLaughlin broke the program's freshman 3-point record with 65 this season, sixth on Purdue's single-season record list, and she's the sixth freshman in program history to have 100 assists, ranking fifth with 108.
“A big thing was to come in, have confidence, believe in myself, that's been the big difference,” McLaughlin said. “I think that's just a huge thing playing basketball. It's going out there, playing your game, making the right reads.”
The Boilermakers split the regular season with Rutgers, losing 58-50 in Piscataway, New Jersey, on Dec. 28 in their conference opener and winning 47-33 in West Lafayette on Jan. 10.
“We're really familiar with Rutgers,” McLaughlin said. “The game plan is to stop their shooters Our defense will transition into our offense, and if every single person plays their role, I think we'll be fine.”