Boilers Hold Off Lovable Lions in OT, 74-70
(Photo credit: SwamyBomby)
Well, that was….fun?
I mean, hell yeah, winning is fun. Winning when you’re not supposed to -- or arguably don’t deserve to -- is also fun. Six wins a row is fun. Going 7-1 since we said Purdue would need to go 9-2 the rest of the way in order to get to 14-4 and hopefully a conference title is hella fun.
Purdue still not being able to close a six-point lead with two minutes to go against a Penn State team that was showing signs of fatigue and was getting into foul trouble? Not so fun. In fact, frighteningly reminiscent of recent tourney struggles.
And let’s get right into that. For one thing, even though Isaac Haas didn’t look real comfortable out there tonight -- Aneesh was on scene so he’ll have to let us know if Haas’ limbs were packed for this trip or maybe were just assembled incorrectly tonight -- where was he down the stretch there? If you’re protecting a lead, perhaps having your big man there to grab rebounds and take it to the hoop so as to draw fouls might be a good tactic.
Our second major complaint about the coaching decisions late in the game is around Boogie Edwards -- where the heck was he? Sitting on the bench, perhaps thinking of all the programs that might like his quickness when facing a press. I don’t mean to be an alarmist, but I’m officially getting worried about Carsen’s future with Purdue -- if he’s not getting those minutes, what’s going on exactly?
Edwards is still in the starting lineup, but he only logged 16 minutes tonight and had three points. Perhaps his 1/8 shooting from the field didn’t help him, but Ryan Cline was out there for nearly double the minutes and only was 3/7 from the floor.
HOWEVER, I’m going to award player of the game to our boy, Smokin’ Ryan Cline. When the chips were down in OT, Cline drilled back to back threes to lock the game down. And even though his 11 points wasn’t the team lead, I just feel like Ryan was the difference tonight.
Double-double generator and player of the game mainstay Caleb Swanigan was one rebound away from a double-double but he fell short and really had an off-night for him, with ten points, nine rebounds, and four assists. He went 6/8 from the line, though, which was critical.
Vincent continued his solid play of late, keeping Purdue in the game with a team-leading 14 point performance on 50% (5/10) shooting, including 75% (3/4) from three range. Okay, fine, Aneesh, he can have co-player of the game.
Looking over the box score, if you want to put a positive spin on this game, one way of looking at it is the diversification of scoring. Six of the eight Purdue players who saw action scored in double figures. The 17 turnovers were ugly, however, and PJ Thompson had three which is like two seasons’ worth for him. The good news, though, was that PSU had 16.
Perhaps it was the empty Bryce Jordan Center, but Purdue started the game horribly cold, allowing Penn State to race out to an 8-0 lead that expanded to 21-12 by the time 13 minutes had been played. But the Boilers kept it close, which was partially aided by PSU shooting like garbage from long range. They went 2/18 from long range, which is 11% for you math majors.
There was one infuriating possession for the NIttany Kittens where their guards kept launching brick three-point attempts and Mike Watkins just kept rebounding the ball and kicking it back out. He had three consecutive -- over Biggie -- and at the end of the possession, Swanigan headed to the Purdue bench for the final seven minutes of the half. Was this rest, punishment or saving face? Regardless, an odd thing to see Biggie outhustled on the boards like that.
The BTN D-level broadcast team was lauding Penn State as the first half closed at just 33-29 in favor of the Lions saying, “If you’re Penn State, you have to be happy.”
Really? Purdue looked like they were asleep or playing with only three players on the court for the first half and PSU only had a four point lead. As a Purdue fan, I was happy this wasn’t a 20-point deficit.
In the second half, Purdue shot a lot better than they had and chipped away, continually getting to within one point only to see PSU push it back to 3 or 4. Finally, the Boilers took their first lead with 7:34 to go when Dakota drained a three.
Purdue seemed to have truly broken this plucky Penn State squad. They’d come out with enviable energy and had controlled the flow and pace of this game, pressuring Purdue into turnovers, bad shots and just generally jittery play. And yet now the cream was rising to the top as Purdue began to pull away. The lead had ballooned to eight (62-54) with under three minutes to go, so it felt over. Right?
If you reflexively said “right” just then, my friend, you must be new to Purdue basketball. Because 2:54 is an eternity for a Matt Painter-led team trying to close out a game.
After a couple of PSU free throws, PJ was bullied into an over-and-back at midcourt. The resulting possession was a layup for the Lions. Caleb Swanigan hit a couple of free throws for Purdue to push the lead back to six with 2:08 to go. Safe, right?
Purdue wouldn’t score again in regulation, despite plenty of chances. In fact, after Penn State tied it at 64, Purdue brought the ball up with under a half minute. On a feed in to Biggie, the ball was deflected out of bounds and Purdue would have it with just seven seconds on the clock. Naturally, Purdue took a timeout to discuss.
I mean, that’s one way I guess Painter’s late game timeouts could go. Another scenario I suppose could be him simply asking the players what they want to do.
“Hey, you guys got any ideas?”
Whatever gets said to these guys late in games, it’s not working. They look tight and even tonight, in the final minute, Purdue had shooters on the floor and Mathias, Cline and Vincent all passed up open looks, though not being going halfway up on the shot fake.
Naturally, the final possession of regulation ended with a sloppy pass, a tumble to the floor and no final shot taken.
Overtime was a bit different as suddenly the spell was lifted and Ryan Cline blazed his way to victory for Purdue. The overtime scoring went:
Haas -- 2
Cline -- 6
PJ -- 2
PJ’s sealed the deal as he hit two with just 13 seconds to go and Purdue holding a two point lead. Good to see someone with the stones to close… and this, of course, if the guy people act like is a liability. Hopefully, that narrative will die soon.
Purdue has three regular season games to go and at this point needs to win them all to lock in the regular season conference title. Saturday they play at MIchigan, next Tuesday they’re home vs the Hoosiers and then the finish on March 5 at the tourney-bound Northwestern Wildcats.
Keep the pedal down, boys.
Tweet of the Night:
Safe travels home, boys: