Purdue Wraps Non-Conference Slate With a Win

ISL Purdue Writer

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — In their final non-conference tilt of the regular season, Purdue’s frontcourt led the way in dismantling Lipscomb. The Boilers withstood the Bisons’ near-perfect first half and never trailed on their way to a 98-66 victory, pulling away with a second half surge fueled by Vincent Edwards.

Trying to ensure the contest would not fall into the disastrous trap category, the Boilers raced out to an early 10-2 lead behind a pair of threes from Carsen Edwards, but the Bisons have a star of their own in Garrison Mathews. Just days after being awarded his third Atlantic Sun Conference player of the week honors, Mathews left it all on the floor in front of a capacity crowd in Mackey Arena Saturday night. Mathews kicked off the scoring for Lipscomb knotting it at two early and responding to Purdue’s quick lead with five straight points of his own to close the gap to three four minutes into the game.

“(Mathews) is a great player. He hit some tough shots; you could see he’s got a great all-around game.” – Dakota Mathias

From there, it became a ballgame and much of that had to do with the 6’5” Junior, Mathews. The rangy guard was able to use screens and ball movement effectively to find himself with some space to knock down jumper after jumper and his teammates followed suit. The Bisons were able to tie the game at 30 with eight minutes remaining in the opening half behind a perfect six-for-six from long range, including a pair by Mathews (Matt Rose also had two while Aaron Korn and Greg Jones each had one). A couple of the threes appeared destined to go in, reminiscent of some “how the heck” shots from The Sixth Man. The first three, from Mathews, careened off the back of the rim and skied straight up before falling back through the nets. The fifth attempt, from Korn, was short, but it hit the front of the rim, and spun forward onto the backboard before falling through the hoop. It wasn’t until the seventh attempt with seven minutes remaining before Rose shot a trey off the side of the rim for the team’s first miss.

“You’ve got to give them credit, I thought their offense was just a little bit better than our defense in that stretch in the first half,” Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter said of Lipscomb’s run in the first half.

Even with the Bisons connecting on many of their shots in the first half, the Boilers never surrendered the lead; with every Lipscomb punch, Purdue punched back. The score was tied five times, all in the first half, but Purdue used timely shooting and the free throw disparity in their favor to stay afloat and carry a five point lead (43-38) into the break. Both teams connected on six threes and 44 percent of their field goals in the opening stanza, but Purdue made their first eight free throws and nine total in the first half while Lipscomb didn’t attempt any. The Bisons also only committed a single turnover in the first half, which came with under a minute to play, but the Boilers were able to limit second chance opportunities by controlling the glass, outrebounding Lipscomb 25-15.

Lipscomb gave their best effort, but Purdue made the adjustments out of the break and the Purdue Seniors took over. It began with Isaac Haas getting back-to-back dunks and then Mathias answered a Mathews three with a trey of his own. Haas hit a pair of free throws and another slam, V. Edwards sank a triple, and Mathias hit a long jumper to break the game wide open, 59-43; a 16-5 run in under four minutes. But a slouch, Lipscomb is not; the Bisons have a legitimate shot at making the NCAA Tournament and they had one last push in them. Over the next three minutes, they were able to cut the lead down to a manageable ten points. Mathews (See a theme yet? This guy can play, period.) hit Lipscomb’s first made free throw to kick off the run and added in three more free throws when Mathias fouled him attempting a long range shot. Rose chipped in five points off a pair of jumpers and the fans nudged to the edge of their seats to see how the Boilers would respond.

“When we move the ball and we get the ball in the paint, good things happen for us.” – Painter

V. Edwards had finally had enough and took over; he drove to the paint with twelve minutes remaining and sank an easy layup, leaving a pair of defenders stunned. He followed that up with a pair of threes and then Nojel Eastern briefly interrupted the Edwards marathon for a little fun of his own by capitalizing on a careless inbounds play. Eastern poked the ball away from Rob Marberry and into the hands of Matt Haarms who sent it back down to Eastern for an easy volleyball-set layup. Reenter Edwards who was fouled shooting a three from the left elbow by Mathews; Edwards made the set and then buried another three to cap off a 16-to-two run and extend the Purdue lead to 24 points with nearly nine minutes remaining in the contest.

The V. Edwards-fueled run was visibly deflating to the Bisons and the game was virtually over at that point, but with time remaining and no mercy rule in basketball, the clock continued to tick down. Purdue continued to push the lead, without forcing the issue, even after the seniors had returned to the bench with applause from the appreciative fan base. The largest lead of the game came from the hands of fan-favorite Tommy Luce; Luce used a crossover to get to the rim for a layup for the final points of the game.

It was almost easy to miss with how effortlessly Mathews had scored in the opening half, but the Boilers locked in on the sharpshooter after the intermission and Mathews only made a single field goal in the second half which came within the first two minutes of the period. As a whole, the Bisons offensive flow in the second half was disrupted much better by the Boilers who forced half of the ten turnovers from Lipscomb and held the Bisons to only eight made field goals in the final 20 minutes. And, although they saw 15 trips to the charity stripe, there was minimal success outside of Mathews (six of seven); the rest of the team went a collective two of eight, both makes were from Marberry.

Nojel Eastern continues to see minutes in low-impact situations and overall has continued to struggle. The ceiling appears to be quite high for the capable freshman, but adjusting to the collegiate game may be more challenging than he or Painter had anticipated. Eastern was able to put in ten minutes Saturday, but contributed only four points and two steals while turning the ball over three times, committed three careless fouls, and missed both of his free throw attempts. While guarding the ball handler, Eastern repeatedly overplayed his man which allowed for an open lane or put his teammates into a bad rotation which often resulted in a foul being called. While his abilities are certainly there, Eastern’s opportunities for playing time are likely to dwindle as conference action gets into full swing and Painter likely shortens his bench.

Next up:
The Boilers host Rutgers on Wednesday, 1/3 (7 pm, BTN)

Quick Hits:
The Purdue football team finished their season earlier in the week by defeating Arizona in the Foster Farms Bowl 38-35 (the Big Ten as a conference is 7-0 in bowl games this year with Michigan the only team yet to play)… While most of Lipscomb’s players hail from Tennessee or Kentucky, Korn is an Indiana product from Frankton… V. Edwards earned a new career high in rebounds with 15, his previous high was 13… The Boilers have already surpassed last season’s block total (87) with nine more Saturday, 95 on the season… Haarms matched his career high with five blocks in the contest… Purdue outrebounded Lipscomb 49-29… V. Edwards had a double-double with 23 point and 15 boards while also adding three assists and two blocks… Haarms nearly had a double-double with nine points and eight boards… Purdue outscored Lipscomb in the paint 38-20… The Bisons bench outscored the Boiler bench 27-20… Purdue’s starters shot well across the board in the second half, going 16-25 from the field, 6-10 from long range, and 7-9 from the free throw line… You may be wondering if this article is filled with typos of “Bisons” (rather than the standard plural Bison) but that is the official name for Lipscomb, odd spellings aren’t foreign to the Purdue area though as just across the river the Lafayette Jeff “Bronchos” (rather than Broncos) suit up for their sporting events.

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