After three straight road wins and a trip back into the top 25 you can’t blame Purdue fans for riding high on this year’s Boilers. It feels like we’re ahead of schedule for what can be a monster 2021-22 and 2022-23 season, so a one point road loss to a semi-desperate Maryland team can feel like a step back.
This is more of a frustrating one. It is hardly a crippling blow as the Terrapins are rated in the top 50 of all the computer polls. Like pretty much everyone else in the Big Ten, they are a tough out on any given night. At 3-7 in league play and a surprising 0-4 at home, they needed a win. Down 5 with 100 seconds left they were up against it. They were able to deliver, too:
- Darryl Morsell buried an open three-pointer.
- Purdue settled for a step-back Jaden Ivey three that was high risk/high reward and wasn’t that far off.
- Eric Ayala hit one of two free throws.
- Ivey missed on an off balance drive into traffic.
- Trevion Williams blocked Ayala, but it took him out of position for the rebound and Ayala got it, getting fouled on the arm by Ivey on the putback.
- Ayala hit both free throws.
This one reminded me a lot of last year’s Texas game, where Purdue was multiple possessions in “winning time”, but couldn’t pull it out. It was a sloppy game from both teams in the first half as Purdue had 11 turnovers, but Maryland was ice cold from three. Purdue limited it to four turnovers in the second half (one on the final play), but Maryland got red hot from three and took advantage of Purdue’s defensive switches.
It is frustrating because Purdue had several chances, but couldn’t get it done. Brandon Newman had three points wiped off the board by everyone’s favorite official on a joke of a travel call. The Boilers finished just 4 of 17 from long range, only one coming in the second half. Trevion Williams was excellent as always with a 23 and 11 and Purdue dominated the glass 33-24, but could not get the one last stop it needed.
As I said though, it is far from a crippling loss. It is the type of game Purdue can learn from and will be a win next year. This was all done without Sasha Stefanovic too, who almost certainly makes a difference tonight. All this was is a small missed opportunity. Purdue is still in excellent shape to make the NCAA Tournament and should win at least 4 or 5 of the last 8 games. This will just sting because Purdue let one slip away, just like at Miami.
As long as Purdue continues to learn from games like this (and it certainly has given the wins at Michigan State and Ohio State) it will be fine.