WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind.—After three straight losses, No. 6-ranked Purdue got the train back on the tracks with a 76-73 home win over Penn State on Sunday night.
You could call it the “Carsen Edwards Game” after he scored 27 points on 9-19 shooting along with a nasty dunk, but the real hero was Grady Eifert who started in place of Vince Edwards who has an apparent ankle sprain he suffered in transition during practice. Eifert had 6 points and 4 rebounds in 23 minutes for what would be a career-game for the Junior.
Dakota Mathias broke out of his recent slump, finishing with 18 points on 7-11 shooting from the field, and 2-5 from deep. Isaac Haas added 12 points and 6 boards, while Ryan Cline chipped in 7 points with two huge threes in different turning points of the game.
Purdue got the production they hoped from Grady Eifert in the opening minute, when he hit a jumper for an early 4-2 Purdue lead. Beyond that point into the 9:04 mark, it was a competitive game. Penn State would be the first side to strike and take a sizeable lead, with a 10-1 stretch for a 9-point lead. A three from Carsen Edwards would start a comeback where the Boilermakers cut the deficit down to 3 points with under 3:00 to go. After a jumper in the final seconds from Carsen, Purdue would trail just 36-32 at halftime which they would certainly take after the Nittany Lions surge.
The Boilermakers would start out the second half on the right note, with a 7-0 stretch over the first 3 minutes to reclaim the lead. Later in the half, Purdue would get an 11-point lead with 12:34 left in the half after Dakota Mathias hit back-to-back layups. It was not over just yet because with 4:15 left in the game, Tony Carr cut it down to just a one-point Purdue lead. The Boilers would have a response from Ryan Cline who hit a three. It was once again close in the final sixty seconds when Penn State had the ball with about 20 seconds only down by three. Isaac Haas would foul Mike Watkins with 2 seconds in the game and Watkins hit only one of two which sent Purdue to a 76-73 victory after outscoring Penn State in the second half 44-37.
Purdue utilized a strong second half shooting performance to their advantage, which led to a solid overall shooting game. They shot 26-53 (49.1%) from the field, 7-20 (35.0%) from three, and 17-27 (633.0%) from the charity stripe. However, they would shoot 55.6 percent from the field, and 45.5 percent from deep in the second half alone. Penn State was also good, going 28-56 (50.0%) from the field, 9-18 (50.0%) from distance, and 8-13 (61.5%) from the free throw line.
Despite seeing more playing time from the “Twin Towers” Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms, Purdue would be out-rebounded by Penn State 35 to 28. They would overcome that difference with solid defense, producing 4 blocks and 9 steals.
Purdue improves to 24-5 this season and 13-3 in the Big Ten conference.
Purdue will face Illinois on the road this Thursday at 7:00 PM Eastern on Fox Sports One.