The first half was all Penn State. The Nittany Lions, though they trailed 33-31, led the Boilermakers in 3FG%, FT%, assists, offensive rebounds, and turnover margin at the half. Penn State G Shep Garner went 5-6 from the field, including 4-5 from three. He played all 20 minutes in the first half and led the game with 15 points.
Penn State led by a score of 28-21 with 3:37 remaining in the first half, and it looked as though they would carry a lead into halftime. Purdue then rattled off a 12-3 run to close out the half, catalyzed by an Isaac Haas layup and capped off by two Carsen Edwards three-pointers.
Despite Edwards’ success late, Purdue shot an uncharacteristic 4-11 from deep in the first half.
“I thought kind of the key to the game was the end of the first half and start of the second half,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said after the victory. “Thought we gained some momentum at the end of the first half.”
In the second half, the Nittany Lions fell apart. Purdue G PJ Thompson kicked off the scoring for the Boilermakers with a three-ball just 23 seconds into the quarter to make it 36-31. The Nittany Lions would only come to within two points of the Boilermakers once more in the contest.
Purdue went on to shoot 60% from the field in the second half, including 7-10 from three. Carsen Edwards scored 14 points on 5-10 shooting and Dakota Mathias added 13 points, knocking in all of his four attempts from the field.
The Boilermakers finished the game shooting 52% from the field and 52.4% from three.
Penn State, on the other hand, shot just 33.9% in the contest. Their three-point percentage wasn’t much better; the Nittany Lions shot 36.4% from beyond the arc.
Penn State star guard Tony Carr, after scoring 25 points on 9-17 shooting against Ohio State on Friday, scored just 12 points on 4-18 from the field against Purdue.
“We really wanted P.J. to start off the game and get into [Tony Carr] and just make him work,” said Painter of Carr’s play. “Third game in three days. We know he has the ball in his hands a lot and how important he is. And he’s a tough shot-maker. Most people that make tough shots don’t make them the next game. He’s a guy that can make tough shots consistently. When you’re shooting a lot from 20 to 25 feet, when people are hounding you, sometimes you have nights like he did.”
Prior to the Big Ten Tournament, it was unlikely that Penn State was going to make the NCAA Tournament field of 68. After wins against Northwestern and Ohio State, though, the Nittany Lions find themselves squarely on the tournament bubble. Penn State Coach Patrick Chambers has faith that his team will make the Big Dance.
“Nobody's going to want to see us in the NCAA Tournament,” he said after the team’s loss to Purdue. “We have NCAA Tournament talent. And I think the administration's going to see that. The teams that we've come up a little short with has been Purdue twice. We've played some really, really good teams. And on the road. So I believe we're going to be in.”
The third-seeded Boilermakers take on Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament final Sunday evening at 4:30 PM in Madison Square Garden.
Carsen Edwards, G, Purdue (27 points, 9-18 FG, 6-9 3FG)
Isaac Haas, C, Purdue (17 points, 7 rebounds, 6-9 FG)
Dakota Mathias, G, Purdue (15 points, 5-7 FG, 2-4 3FG)
Shep Garner, G, Penn State (33 points, 3 steals, 8-11 FG, 6-8 3FG, 11-12 FT)