The third-seeded Purdue Boilermakers confirmed many predictions at Madison Square Garden Saturday afternoon as they beat the Penn State Nittany Lions at the 2018 Big Ten Semifinals. The Boilermakers had made it to the quarterfinals in last year’s Big Ten Tournament but were upset by the Michigan Wolverines, much to the surprise of many. This year they will aim to seek redemption as they will face Michigan in the Finals on March 4th.
Penn State knew it was critical to get control of the ball and get around Purdue’s tough defense. Purdue knew they needed to not allow Tony Carr to dominate State’s defense. State remained without their forward Mike Watkins, due to a knee injury, but put up a tough fight, as they lost 70 to 78.
Purdue took an early lead, 3 out of 3 in early shooting, yet the lead didn’t last long. With a lack of rebounds, an early number of fouls, and a slow start with turnovers, Purdue fell behind the Nittany Lions. State led 28-21 until the Boilermakers hit a turning point by taking control of the game and left halftime leading 33-31. At the conclusion of the first half, Shep Garner of State led all players with 15 points.
As the second half began, Purdue used the momentum they gained from the end of the first half and charged forward. Within the first few minutes, however, they gained three fouls. With 15:20 left, Isaac Haas already had four points in the half, with a total of 11 points and 4 rebounds in the game thus far. At 47-40, the Boilermakers held the largest lead of the game at that time. Purdue held a lead for the entirety of the second half, with several players leading the way.
The Nittany Lions were led by Shep Garner (33 points, 3 rebounds), Lamar Stevens (14 points, 6 rebounds), and Tony Carr (12 points, 9 rebounds), while Carsen Edwards (27 points, 4 rebounds), Isaac Haas (17 points, 7 rebounds) and Dakota Mathias (15 points, 6 rebounds) headed the Boilers in scoring.
Tune in tomorrow (March 4th at 4:30 PM ET) at the Big-10 final, to catch the no. 5 Wolverines and the no. 3 Boilermakers face off in their third meeting this year!