Skip to main content

The Journal Gazette

Thursday, November 02, 2017 1:00 am

Purdue 98 Carroll (Mont.) 71

Boilers rally in 2nd vs. friend of family

Ben Vessa | For The Journal Gazette

WEST LAFAYETTE – It was a homecoming for Carroll College head coach Carson Cunningham. The former Purdue point guard brought his team from Montana to Mackey Arena for an exhibition game against his alma mater Wednesday night. But if Cunningham's team was supposed to accept a gracious beating from their hosts, nobody told them.

Carroll, which forced Purdue into 12 first-half turnovers and was able to carve the interior of the Boilermakers defense with the dribble, trailed by seven late in the first half, but a 23-9 Purdue run to open the second half broke the game open and the Boilermakers prevailed 98-71.

“We've got to do a better job containing the dribble, but more important, to help our defense, we just have to do a better job taking care of the ball,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “Sometimes, we're in a big hurry to go nowhere.”

The Boilermakers' bench performed well, led by the strong post presence of 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms and a smooth shooting stroke from the left hand of Nojel Eastern. The Purdue reserves scored 17 first-half points on 6-for-7 shooting, but 15 first-half points from Carroll forward Ryan Imhoff and a negligible rebound margin kept the score close in the first half.

When the second half began, Isaac Haas took over. The Boilermakers made a conscious effort to pound the ball inside, and Haas was the beneficiary. Haas scored six quick points, and a more aggressive Purdue team attacked the rim at one end and pressured Carroll ball handlers on the other, opening up a 64-43 advantage and cruising from there.

The Boilermakers, ranked No. 20 in the AP preseason poll, shot the ball well – 55 percent from the floor and 39 percent from 3-point range. Vincent Edwards led the way for Purdue with 20 points, Carsen Edwards had 18, and Haas and Eastern had 14 and 12, respectively.

Cunningham, a two-time Academic All-America selection who earned a Ph.D. in history from Purdue, embodied intelligence, hustle and unselfishness during his playing days – traits that were evident in his Fighting Saints.

Last year, Carroll led the NAIA in field-goal percentage and finished second in three-point percentage, but Purdue's defense clamped down on them, especially in the second half, holding them to 42-percent shooting and giving them just 21 second-half shots.

Cunningham, who received a rousing ovation from the Mackey faithful during pregame introductions, is responsible for an incredible success story at Carroll. In 2012-13, the season before Cunningham took the helm, the Saints won only two games. Last year, the Saints finished 29-6, winning the Frontier Conference Championship, earning a No. 1 seed in the NAIA tournament, and advancing to the Final Eight.

Cunningham helped the Boilermakers reach the Sweet Sixteen in 1999 and the Elite Eight in 2000.

Purdue opens its regular season Nov. 10 at home against SIU-Edwardsville.