Boilermakers start strong, finish strong in win at Maryland
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Isaac Haas had to wear a black sleeve over his right elbow Friday night at Maryland, a protective measure after he got hit in the elbow against Louisville, tweaking a nerve.
He wasn't a fan of the accessory, "hates" it, he said.
"The trainers made me wear it," Haas said after Purdue beat Maryland 80-75, "and now my team will probably make me wear it from now on."
Considering how Haas played, they might.
Starting strong and finishing even stronger, Haas towered over the Terrapins at the Xfinity Center, totaling 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting, five rebounds — some big ones included — and four blocked shots, along with the usual bevy of fouls inflicted on the opponent.
His final stretch might have been one of the best of his career.
In the final six minutes — Purdue led by three at that point — alone, Haas scored an and-one, tipped a Maryland pass for a turnover, grabbed an offensive rebound that led to Carsen Edwards getting to the foul line, scored again, blocked a shot, then grabbed another offensive rebound.
It was during this stretch that Purdue, which has talked so much lately of "grinding games out," embodied it. The Boilermakers were often glorified spectators on the defensive glass through much of the game, but in the home stretch, the final 10 minutes, may have won the game on the offensive boards itself.
Free throws, too.
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"The Big Ten on the road you have to grind out games," Dakota Mathias said. "Give (Maryland) credit, they fought back. We punched them and they punched back. But getting those offensive rebounds and making those free throws down the stretch, that's kind of the toughness we've been talking about and looking for."
On the offensive glass, Vincent Edwards grabbed two in succession, the second of which made possible Carsen Edwards' three-pointer, a shot that took Purdue's two-point lead to five after Maryland erased a 14-point first-half lead to go ahead early in the second half for all of 18 seconds.
Haas darted — and 7-foot-2, 300 pounds rarely darts — between a pair a few Terrapins around the rim with less than six minutes left, earning Purdue an extra possession that resulted in Carsen Edwards drawing a foul and splitting the pair.
Then, finally, and maybe most impactful, Haas rebounded his own miss inside of two minutes, then Maryland fouled Carsen Edwards 22 seconds later shortening the game and leading to two more free throws.
Funny how things worked out after Maryland spent much of the first half bludgeoning Purdue on the offensive glass, but struggling to finish.
"That's basketball. Sometimes if you stick to it and work hard, study film and watch things, it's going to work out for you," Mathias said. "They say the basketball gods look down on you when you do that stuff."
Every little bit mattered then as Purdue weathered another harrowing finish in College Park.
The Boilermakers were up nine with 3:49 to play.
But, Anthony Cowan made a three while drawing contact from P.J. Thompson. The foul shot was good for a four-point play, which preceded the Cowan and-one drive that followed. That was a 7-0 run in mere seconds, cutting Purdue's lead to three.
Carsen Edwards turned the ball over on the ensuing in-bound and Maryland called timeout.
But it used sharp-shooter Kevin Huerter as a decoy and ran the play for Jared Nickens, whose clean look to tie it was short.
"We've gotten lucky here two years in a row," Coach Matt Painter said, referring back to Huerter's buzzer-beater miss last season.
And that was that.
It was Purdue finishing off a game its seniors put it in position to win.
Haas played one of his best games, again on the road; he was previously the game's most impactful player at Marquette.
"It's just a matter of focus, to lock in and understand, 'There's a job to be done here,'" Haas said. "Road games are gold in the Big Ten now, so it's good to start off with a gold win … because it's a really hard homecourt to beat that team on."
Vincent Edwards went for 10 points, 11 rebounds and four assists and made several key plays in the second half in particular that Purdue may not have won without.
And then, Dakota Mathias, the only Boilermaker who's shot consistently well over the years at Xfinity Center, the one who shot so well against Maryland in Mackey Arena two seasons ago that Reggie Miller tweeted at him.
Maryland will be thrilled when Mathias is gone next season, particularly after tonight.
Mathias made all seven of his shots in the first half, four of them threes, and scored 18. He didn't make a field goal in the second half, but may have preyed on Maryland's more aggressive defense, throwing a few cunning assists for easy baskets for teammates. Five of his nine assists came in the second half.
Purdue led by as many as 14 in the first half; Maryland had it down to six by halftime, then took the lead early in the second half, albeit briefly. The Boilermakers rallied again to build a 10-point lead. The Terrapins quickly wiped it away.
Maryland answered Purdue every time; Purdue answered back every time.
"That comes with our experience as a team, having all these guys out here, guys who've been here before, won here last year," Vincent Edwards said. "When you know what it takes, you know what you've got to do."
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