Home-standing Purdue knocked No. 19 Ohio State out of first place in the Big Ten with a wild 68-67 victory in front of 9,111 fans at Mackey Arena in West Lafayette.
Purdue point guard FahKara Malone torched Ohio State for 23 points, including an uncharacteristic 5-for-7 shooting night from three-point range, and three other Boilermakers scored in double figures in a pivotal showdown between two of the Big Ten’s three leading teams at the start of the night.
Malone’s final points capped the last of many runs in a game that saw momentum shift over and over again.
She stepped behind a double screen at the top of the key and swished a trey that put her team ahead 66-65 with less than 80 seconds to play. Not long before, the Boilermakers had trailed 65-60, the result of Ohio State’s own 6-0 mini run, but Malone’s shot was far from the game-ender.
Ohio State came back with a bank shot from Jantel Lavender, a make that gave the freshman center a career-high 30 points with just under a minute to play and gave Ohio State a momentary one-point lead.
It might have stood up had the Buckeyes been able to secure Boilermaker Danielle Campbell’s miss at the other end, but that carom instead went to Purdue’s Natasha Bogdanova.
After a Purdue timeout, Lakisha Freeman flipped in an off-balance one-handed shot from the middle of the lane, and it was the Boilermakers who had the lead with less than 20 seconds to go.
As it turned out, Freeman’s would be the last shot attempt of the game: Ohio State’s final play did not come close to producing a clean look.
The Buckeyes led by as many as 14 in the first half and maintained a slim lead for the first five-plus minutes of the second half until Malone hit her fourth trey of the game, this one with 14:34 to play, to put her team ahead 50-48.
From that point on, the teams jockeyed back and forth for pole position in the Big Ten stretch run.
The Boilermakers (13-10, 9-3) finished the night sharing the conference lead with Iowa, an 82-64 winner at home against Michigan State.
Ohio State (17-6, 8-4) fell a game off the pace with six conference contests remaining. The Buckeyes lost their third road game of a row and fell to 2-4 away from home in Big Ten play.
Joining Malone, who entered the night having made 20 of 73 treys (27.4 percent) on the season, in double-figure scoring was Campbell (18 points) along with Keshia Moseley and Freeman, who both scored 10.
Lavender played all 40 minutes and made 15 of 23 shots from the floor, but Ashlee Trebilcock was the only other Buckeye to reach double-digits in points. She had 14 and added eight rebounds.
OSU point guard Shavelle Little had seven points, seven rebounds and seven steals.