They had it.
Ty Jerome was at the free throw line with less than five seconds left. He missed his second attempt with the Virginia Cavaliers trailing by two. A wild tip past midcourt (on a night when Purdue gave up 17 offensive rebounds) was gathered by Kihei Clark more than 60 feet from the basket. He scrambled and somehow got it into the frontcourt where Mamadi Diakite collected it and hit a short jumper, tying the game at 70-70 and sending it to overtime.
Purdue would lead 75-74 on a drive from Carsen Edwards with 43 seconds left, but De’Andre Hunter scored on a drive, Edwards missed a long three, and Kyle Guy was fouled on the rebound. After hitting both free throws Purdue turned it over and that was it. The drought of Final Fours will now last 40 years as the Boilers suffered yet another stomach punch loss in March.
It was not Carsen Edwards’ fault. The junior broke his own school record for made threes in a game by going 10 of 19 from three. He tied his career high, set agaisnt Villanova a week ago, with 42 points. It was much like the Texas game as he was the lone player in double figures for Purdue. Ryan Cline was held to seven points after an amazing game against Tennessee, and Purdue fans will remember his missed free throw with 17 seconds left in regulation (after a monster Grady Eifert rebound), as another crushing moment. The Cavaliers outrebounded Purdue 39-31, but it was the offensive glass that was the difference.
Purdue led by as many as 10 in the first half but Virginia worked its way back to only trail 30-29 at the break. Kyle Guy then took over. After scoring only four points and spraining his ankle in the first he recovred to score 21 in the second half, including five threes. It looked like Virginia was going to pull away, but Edwards wouldn’t let them. Carsen hit threes with an insane degree of difficulty and nearly won this game single-handedly. He was named Most Outstanding Player for the South Region.
Purdue finishes the year 26-10 with a Big Ten championship and its first Elite Eight appearance in 19 years. There is no doubt it was a successful season, especially after losing what we lost last season, but this one stings. it was a definite pro-Purdue crowd that sounded like Mackey Arena most of the night, and to get as close as you can possibly get to a Final Four without making it is a bitter pill to swallow.
Still, what a year. What a season. The ache will (mostly) fade with time, but Purdue exceeded expectations and was almost there. Purdue took possibly the best team in college basketball right to the brink and for a split second we were finally there, only to have it cruelly taken away.
All we needed was one rebound.