WEST LAFAYETTE – On the day Purdue celebrated the first game ever played there, the Boilermakers added another memorable finish to the storied history of Mackey Arena.
Isaac Haas scored 18 of his 26 points in the second half as Purdue (8-2) moved to 2-0 in the Big Ten by holding off Northwestern 74-69 on Sunday.
The last three minutes became a duel between Haas and Northwestern's Scottie Lindsey.
With the score tied at 65, the two exchanged baskets twice. After Haas gave the Boilermakers a 71-69 lead, Purdue coach Matt Painter turned to Matt Haarms. Haarms, who leads all freshmen in the nation in blocked shots, rejected Lindsay's attempt to tie the score with 11 seconds to play, and three Vincent Edwards' free throws sealed the win for Purdue.
“The last two games, (Haas) has been huge for us,” Painter said. “Any miss down the stretch probably costs us the game.”
Another issue was looming for the Boilermakers as leading scorer Carsen Edwards was hit with an inadvertent forearm while scrambling for a loose ball and did not play the last 8:28.
The Purdue bench, which was held scoreless against Maryland on Friday, was now needed. In stepped Ryan Cline, who scored 13 points. All five of his baskets either tied the score or put the Boilermakers ahead. His 3-pointer gave Purdue a 64-62 lead with just over three minutes left.
“The first few games were definitely a struggle, but my teammates never lost confidence in me,” Cline said. “Down the stretch, I felt that I was in the zone.”
Haas asserted himself in the post, scoring eight points in the first five minutes, and Purdue opened a 47-43 lead.
Northwestern would not wilt, thanks in large part to Derek Pardon, who scored 20 points and hit a layup that put the Wildcats in front 48-47.
Prior to team introductions, a video of memorable moments at Mackey Arena spanning 50 years and spanning the length of the court was projected from the bottom of the scoreboard. The tribute seemed to inspire the Boilermakers early as Dakota Matthias and P.J. Thompson connected from long range to spark an 11-0 run, and Purdue grabbed a 23-11 lead.
Northwestern answered with a 14-1 run late in the first half and the score was tied at 33 at halftime.
Northwestern coach Chris Collins focused his defense on the outside shooters of Purdue. In the first half, the strategy worked, as Haas went just 1-for-4 from the floor and the Boilermakers missed eight 3-pointers.
“You have to pick your poison with these guys,” Collins said. “They're so prolific from 3, so our mindset was, let's try to defend the 3-point line.”