Sometimes everything you know about basketball is a lie.
The Boilermakers had a comfortable three possession lead with less than a minute on the clock. Then Anthony Cowan would score 7 points in the matter of 17 seconds, and Carsen Edwards would turn the ball over and Maryland found themselves with the ball and just a 3 point deficit before a couple Terrapin misses were followed by P. J. Thompson free throws and Purdue was able to start the Big Ten season with a big win on the road, 80-75.
After a strong shooting night, Purdue had a 76-68 lead on Maryland after a pair of P. J. Thompson free throws. Then Cowan went to work. He moved left across a screen, double-clutched, and made a three-point as Thompson brushed against his side. The four point play would bring the lead to four. Thompson would hit two more free throws to push the lead back to six before.
Cowan then took Haarms on in the paint, draw contact and finished another And-1 with his left hand. It was a one possession game.
Carsen Edwards would attempt to split a double against the press and his errand pass found its way into the Terrapins hands and Purdue was looking at giving up a lead they held for most of the night.
Instead, Jared Nickens would miss a three-point attempt from the corner and two more Thompson free throws would seal the deal for Purdue’s opening Big Ten match-up as defending regular season champions.
The theme of the game was Maryland keeping the game close despite a Boilermaker team that could not miss in the first half. Dakota Mathias literally could not miss in the first half. He made all 7 of his field goal attempts, including 4 three-pointers. While Isaac Haas contributed 12 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the field.
Maryland stayed in it by attacking Purdue at their weak point: rebounding. Maryland had 10 first half offensive rebounds, and sixteen for the game, but they could never get it going from the field. They shot 34.9% from the field and went 10 of 28 from distance. They were effective at getting to the line and making them, knocking down 21 of their 26 free throw attempts.
Anthony Cowan finished the game with a team-high 20 points, while Keven Heurter had an efficient 19 points on just 9 shots, knocking down 4 three-pointers, despite drawing Dakota Mathias for most of the night.
For Purdue, it was all about the starters. Literally.
Bench points for Purdue: 0
All five starts scored in double-figures. They shot an incredible 67% from the field in the first half, but they could never pull away.
Isaac Haas, despite being barraged with ‘You are ugly’ chants from the Maryland crowd again, was the biggest and best man on the court. He had 21 points on just 13 shots. His only free throw attempts was a big And-1 finish off a Vincent Edwards feed after moments earlier coming off the floor with an apparent knee injury.
Dakota Mathias set the tone in the first half. He scored 18 points, missed none of his shots, and scored with left-handed finishes at the rims, threes on the move, and pretty up and under bank shots with his off-hand. He finished with 20 points for the game, making two free throws in the second half while missing all three shots from the field. The Midwestern Cowboy continues to do everything else for the team as well, pulling in five rebounds and having a game high 9 assists.
Carsen Edwards struggled from distance, knocking down just 2 of 6, but he was able to get to the line and attack on both sides of the ball. He scored 18 points and hauled in 6 rebounds. While his partner in ball continues to score and rebound in double figures. Vincent Edwards scored just 10 points but had 11 rebounds and 4 assists. P. J. Thompson had 11 points, but most importantly put the game away at the line late where he was a perfect 6 of 6.
Matt Haarms continues to be a defensive presence. Though he was held scoreless, he blocked 3 shots in just 13 minutes of action before fouling out late.
The Boilermakers both looked incredible tonight and bad late, but the Big Ten season is a war and you just have to survive. They did tonight. Bench production is going to be a big deal going forward, but tonight, the starters held court.
Purdue will play their second straight conference game Sunday when they host Northwestern at 4:00 pm in Mackey Arena.