WEST LAFAYETTE – Bryson Scott was given an opportunity and took full advantage of the moment.
The true freshman made his first career start for Purdue and had 16 points, five assists and three steals to lead the Boilermakers to a 69-64 victory over the Eastern Michigan Eagles on Saturday.
Scott, a Northrop graduate, made the start for Ronnie Johnson, who was serving punishment for being late to a practice. Johnson had started the first nine games of the season.
He always comes out and competes, Purdue coach Matt Painter said of Scott. He’s gotten frustrated at times and through frustration I think he’s made some strides by watching tape and talking to us.
But it’s hard for him. He wants to get out there and play more. Today he got an opportunity to do so, and he helped us win a game.
After getting the starting nod, Scott stepped up in a big way.
Scott went 9 of 10 from the free-throw line in the final 2:43 to keep the game out of reach, including Purdue’s final seven points. Scott grabbed a steal at the end of the game to keep the Eagles (5-3) from making a final push.
Scott finished 10 of 13 from the line.
When I noticed that they were trying to make a comeback, I just wanted to concentrate more and be more focused at the line, Scott said.
If I wouldn’t have knocked them down, they would have had a chance to maybe pull one out on us.
The Boilermakers have won three straight, and there’s no downtime for Purdue. They face Butler in the Crossroads Classic in Indianapolis next Saturday. Three days later they play host to Maryland-Eastern Shore, and then go on the road to West Virginia before the Boilermakers open Big Ten play with Ohio State on Dec. 31.
We have to keep getting better, said A.J. Hammons, who finished with eight points and seven rebounds. We just keep working on things and getting the freshman more involved and everything. But we’re not satisfied.
True freshman Kendall Stephens stepped up, too. He scored a career-high 13 points, including three 3-pointers, to give the Boilermakers a spark in the first half.
Stephens hit two 3s as the Boilermakers took an 8-2 lead.
The Eagles led just once. Karringtonn Ward, who led Eastern Michigan with 25 points and eight rebounds, hit a 3-pointer with 7:26 left in the first half to give the Eagles a 17-16 lead.
It didn’t last long.
Stephens answered with a 3-pointer to put Purdue back on top, 19-17, and the Boilermakers led the rest of the way.