By: Joe Catapano
No. 23 Purdue pushed past No. 17 Maryland in a hectic top-25 matchup Saturday afternoon at the Xfinity Center in College Park.
In a game that ultimately came down to free throws, Kevin Huerter’s last-second shot attempt clanked off the rim as time expired, cementing Purdue’s 73-72 lead over the Terrapins to end the game.
“We usually win close games,” Mark Turgeon said. “We’re not used to losing them. And today, we just couldn’t get that last stop.”
Purdue’s Carsen Edwards stood on the charity stripe with 2.1 seconds left following Justin Jackson’s fifth foul of the game on Maryland’s last defensive possession. Edwards, a 72 percent free-throw shooter, sunk both shots without grazing the rim.
What seemed to be a game-sealing interception on the inbounds play by Isaac Haas turned the Maryland crowd from dead-silent to electric. The Terrapins were given one last chance after Haas walked with the ball before the clock ran out.
“There are some things you can’t control but you have to be able to play through the final buzzer,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “If you get the ball and there’s two seconds, you have to hold onto it.”
Turgeon looked to Huerter with 0.5 seconds left to win the game in wild fashion. Although Huerter got a great look given the allotted time, the freshman didn’t have long enough to get the shot off the way he wanted to.
“It didn’t feel like my shots throughout the game that I was taking,” Huerter said. “That’s what I’m most frustrated with.”
Maryland had the chance to win the game late with 2016 Big Ten Player of the Year, Caleb Swanigan, fouled out of the game. Before his fifth foul, Swanigan scored 26 points and recorded 10 rebounds, his 20th double-double of the season.
“Swanigan was terrific,” Turgeon said. “[He hit] back-to-back threes out there. He was tough for us.”
Although Swanigan had a solid outing, Maryland’s low-post defense was encouraging, holding Purdue to under 40 percent from the floor.
For the first time since Dec. 20 against Charlotte, forward Michal Cekovsky played more than six minutes. Upon returning from injury, he saw limited time in Maryland’s last three games.
The 7-foot-1 forward recorded six blocks in 13 minutes.
“I’m just trying to be an impact player on defense every time,” Cekovsky said. “There was nothing different this game. I was just trying to play my role.”
Maryland went on large scoring runs in both halves, but failed to shake the Boilermakers. An 8-0 Terrapin run gave Maryland a 12-point advantage with 13:43 left in the second half.
In less than seven minutes, Purdue was able to completely erase that deficit and take a lead of its own.
“They executed their plays at a high level,” Dodd said. “I think that was the biggest problem. We just didn’t take good shots.”
Maryland failed to make a field goal in the last 7:37 of the game, but the Terrapins shifted their gameplan as Trimble took over down the stretch.
Trimble’s ability to get to the free-throw line allowed Maryland to keep pace with Purdue, despite shooting just 4-of-15 from the field. The junior finished with 22 points, including 14-of-15 from the line.
“He’s the best player, unbelievable for three years,” Turgeon said. “He got to the foul line 15 times. He was terrific. He’s the reason we were in the game.”
The loss snaps Maryland’s seven-game winning streak and its undefeated record as an underdog this season.
The Terrapins (20-3) look to bounce back in State College against Penn State on Tuesday at 6 p.m.