MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- Lindsay Whalen had a little extra incentive to play well against Purdue, and that was bad news for the Boilermakers.
"If people didn't know who the MVP in the league was," Minnesota coach Brenda Oldfield said, "she definitely showed them tonight."
Whalen scored a career-high 41 points Thursday night to lead the 15th-ranked Golden Gophers past No. 7 Purdue 73-64.
"The first three times I played against Purdue, those definitely weren't three of my better games," Whalen said. "In big games like this, it's a little incentive to show off and play as hard as you can."
Whalen, held to a season-low nine points in the Golden Gophers' 84-61 loss at Purdue on Jan. 10, made 15 of 20 shots, including three 3-pointers. She's been held to single-digit point totals just twice in her career, both times against Purdue.
Corrin Von Wald added 13 points and 11 rebounds for Minnesota (20-4, 10-3), which won its sixth straight and moved a half-game behind the Boilermakers in the Big Ten standings. The Gophers were 1-15 last year in conference play.
"If we're not a better basketball team from this experience, then there's something wrong with us," said Purdue coach Kristy Curry. "There were enough tears in that locker room to float a boat all the way home. You've just got to give Lindsay credit. She had a great night."
Shereka Wright scored 16 points for the Boilermakers (20-4, 11-3), who had a nine-game winning streak broken. Kelly Komara added 13 points, and Mary Jo Noon had 10.
Whalen, a sophomore who ranks second in the conference in scoring at 22.7 points per game, recorded the fifth 40-point game in school history.
Komara wasn't sure why Whalen couldn't be stopped this time around.
"It's not impossible. We did it in our gym," Komara said. "You can't give somebody like that confidence early. She was on tonight. She took it at us, and we didn't have an answer for us."
Minnesota took its biggest lead, 46-32, on a three-point play by Whalen with 13:06 remaining. But Purdue crept back, pulling within six at 60-54 on Kelly Komara's 3-pointer with 4:07 left.
Whalen, who left briefly after picking up her fourth foul, returned and scored five straight points to put Minnesota up 65-54 with less than three minutes to go.
"I love Lindsay Whalen," Curry said. "She looks to make everybody around her better."
Purdue didn't score in the game's first three minutes and wasn't able to play its halfcourt offense effectively in the first half, turning the ball over 14 times under often-heavy pressure by the Gophers.
With Minnesota up 16-9, Whalen stole Komara's pass and took it the other way for a layup. Von Wald did the same thing on the next possession, bringing the crowd of 8,639 to its feet. Thursday's game had the second-highest attendance total in school history for a women's game.
The Boilermakers went on a 11-4 run to pull within 27-23 on Noon's basket with 6:08 left, but Whalen made two 3-pointers over the final three minutes and led Minnesota 37-27 at halftime.
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