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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Purdue center Matt Haarms celebrates during the second half against No. 23 Maryland on Thursday. Haarms had 10 points and six rebounds.

Friday, December 07, 2018 1:00 am

Purdue 62 Maryland 60

Boilermakers turn up pressure

Limit Terrapins to 35% shooting for 1st Big Ten win

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

WEST LAFAYETTE – After Purdue's ugly loss against Michigan on Saturday, coach Matt Painter was not happy with his team's defense. He thought it lacked “attention to detail.”

The Boilermakers clearly took Painter's message to heart and clamped down defensively against a high-scoring Maryland team at Mackey Arena on Thursday night. 

Purdue held the No. 23 Terrapins to an anemic 35 percent shooting from the field, and Nojel Eastern blocked an Anthony Cowan 3-point attempt in the final seconds to seal a 62-60 Boilermakers victory in front of an announced crowd of 14,242.

Carsen Edwards led all scorers with 20 points and hit all nine of his free throws, including two with seven seconds remaining, to propel the Boilers (6-3, 1-1 Big Ten).

Edwards' rugged performance aside, however, this game was won on defense.

“We were hungry,” center Matt Haarms said. “We were hungry for a win. You could see it on all the guys. We wanted a piece of them from the start. When we're the first ones to hit, we can be a really good defensive team. ... It's just that hunger, I think we had it last year, I really think we need to build from this and just show this every single game.”

The Boilermakers' defense was particularly stifling when it mattered most, in the final minutes. Maryland (7-2, 1-1) made just one field goal in the final seven minutes and none after the 4:20 mark. Among those failed possessions were a pair of shot-clock violations. Maryland wasn't missing good looks; there weren't any looks to be had against the Boilermakers.

“(Purdue) was physical without fouling,” Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. “That's hard. Give them a lot of credit. ... It felt like they had six guys out there on defense.”

The Boilermakers needed every stop they got because Maryland's defense was almost as tough. Purdue scored just three points, all on free throws, in the final five minutes of the game but was able to hold on and grind out an important win. 

“If you like defense, that was a fun game to watch,” Turgeon said.

The game-turning run came just before the scoreless drought from both teams in the closing minute. With 7:49 remaining, Cowan hit a jumper to give Maryland a 54-52 lead. After a couple of misses, Edwards drilled a contested 3 that put the Boilermakers in front for good. On the next possession, he found redshirt freshman Aaron Wheeler in transition for an easy layup.

Less than a minute later, Haarms added a wide-open dunk off another pass from Edwards to make it a 7-0 run and a five-point Purdue lead, and that was enough to get the Boilermakers over the hump.

Edwards went just 4 of 15 from the field, but as that run demonstrated, he doesn't need to score to affect the game offensively.

“Even if (Edwards) isn't scoring, there's always at least three guys on defense looking at him like, 'What's he going to do?'” Haarms said. “That helps so much. He has such a gravity to him on offense, even when he's not scoring the ball. Guys have to pay attention to him.”

In addition to Edwards' 20 points, Wheeler was a revelation, scoring a career-high 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting and knocking down three 3-pointers.

The win was Purdue's first over a ranked opponent this season in four tries. The Boilermakers are 20-1 at home since the start of last season.

dsinn@jg.net