Purdue weathers second-half scare to get past short-handed Maryland
Purdue keeps getting pushed.
But the Boilermakers keep pushing back.
Such was the story of their 18th consecutive victory, 75-67 Wednesday night over Maryland in Mackey Arena, a game third-ranked Purdue once appeared poised to break wide open only to have to fight to win in the final 10 minutes.
"We've been in some possession-type games," Coach Matt Painter said, " ... and we've been able to make plays on both ends. Sometimes you're a more offensive team than defense at times, but we've been able to get those timely stops. It just shows the mental toughness of executing on offense, then being able to get those stops on defense and long rebounds."
Here's where Purdue won this one: After a 15-point first-half lead had boiled down to just three after a trio of Kevin Huerter three-pointers, Isaac Haas made a pair of free throws, Purdue stopped Maryland, P.J. Thompson nailed a three-pointer, Purdue stopped Maryland, then Haas dunked off an entry from the badly ill Vincent Edwards.
The seven-point burst put the Boilermakers back ahead by 10, and their lead was never again threatened.
Under a different set of circumstances, it might never have been close.
Purdue opened the game blitzing Maryland defensively, crowding star point guard Anthony Cowan and Huerter, generating steals and deflections with its active, aggressive demeanor and simply taking the Terrapins out of everything they seemed to want to do.
In fact, Maryland's best/only offense through the majority of the first half came from transition run-outs off Purdue misses.
"That would have negatively affected us in the past," senior Dakota Mathias said, "kind of gotten our heads down. They'd score and we'd be down five or 10 points. Now, we've matured and realize we've got to get stops at the defensive end no matter what happens at the offensive end."
Purdue did that through the first half, before a second half that resembled the breakneck-paced shootout that was the second half of the Michigan game in Mackey Arena last week.
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Maryland shot 55 percent in the second half, but started out 7-of-8 from the floor, with the lone miss in that stretch being put back for an and-one.
But just like against Michigan, the Boilermakers countered a red-hot offense with red-hot offense of its own, their best defense being a good offense.
Purdue made seven of its first nine shots to open the second half, including a series of dunks and layups for redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms rolling to the basket.
Still, when Huerter buried back-to-back threes at 9:51 and 9:18, the Terps brought it to within one possession.
But again, as it has in every game it's played the past two months, Purdue had every answer it needed, after missing out on a chance to end all suspense early. It shot 35 percent in the first half.
"We were ready to play and ready to defend," Painter said. "We just didn't shoot the ball very well."
Isaac Haas started slow, an uncharacteristic 3-of-7 in the first half. But he finished up 8-of-14 for 20 points, with nine rebounds.
"We just couldn't guard Haas," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said. "He's a beast."
And Carsen Edwards added 17 points and three assists, needing just nine shots to get his points. Mathias scored 11, while Vincent Edwards, whose battles with illness had him going back and forth to the locker room during the game after he remained there during pre-game shootaround, finished with eight points, 11 rebounds and five assists.
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