Carsen Edwards scored 30 points, but the Boilermakers’ season ended with a 78-645 loss to the Red Raiders.
BOSTON — After the whistle blew to signal another Purdue turnover, P.J. Thompson grabbed the ball with two hands and slammed it onto the TD Garden court.
Such emotional outbursts were uncommon over the point guard’s four-year career. That brief exception — with only 2.6 seconds remaining in the first half — spoke for an entire team.
Those frustrations only grew.
Challenged by 3 seed Texas Tech’s defensive intensity and athleticism, 2 seed Purdue lost its offensive poise and never regained it. The winningest season in Boilermaker history ended with a 78-65 loss in the East Region semifinals.
“This was a special team,” Thompson said. “These guys are always going to be my guys. We just didn’t get it done.”
Emotions turned somber following the game. Senior guard Dakota Mathias, in many ways the team’s emotional rock, sat silently with a towel draped over his head. Jacquil Taylor walked over to place his uniform in the laundry pile atop that of Ryan Cline.
From one end of the locker room to the other, eyes red with tears and cracking voices lamented the last time four seniors will wear those uniforms.
They also lamented the performance that sent those seniors out. A team with Final Four aspirations fell to 0-4 in Sweet 16 games under coach Matt Painter. For the second straight season, the Boilermakers were swept out of the regional semifinals, outscored by 18 points over the game’s final 23 minutes.
The Boilermakers’ previous six losses this season came by a combined 24 points. None came by more than seven. Texas Tech, however, turned the tone of the game in its favor late in the first half never relented.
“When it comes down to it, you can’t let that team get layups and dunks,” Painter said. “The No. 1 thing to do is you’ve got to take care of the basketball and let them attack you when your defense is set. And they just had too many opportunities tonight when our defense wasn’t set, because we were playing from behind because of turnovers or ill-advised shots.”
Texas Tech advances to its first Elite Eight to face 1 seed Villanova. The Wildcats, pursuing their second national championship in three years, defeated 5 seed West Virginia 90-78 in Friday’s early semifinal.
Carsen Edwards scored 30 points on 11 of 20 shooting, and his confident performance nearly rallied Purdue from a nine-point deficit with 11 minutes to play. He scored 25 of those points in the second half, including five straight points to cut the deficit to 54-51 with 7:22 to play.
Purdue still trailed by three with 5:44 to play, before Keenan Evans scored seven points during an 11-0 Texas Tech run. The biggest dagger was his 3-pointer with 4:24 left, pushing the Red Raiders’ lead back to eight points.
Vincent Edwards added 12 points, 13 rebounds and three assists, but also committed six of the Boilermakers’ 17 turnovers. Texas Tech finished the game with a 15-2 edge in points off turnovers — by far the most lopsided differential of the season for Purdue.
P.J. Thompson scored eight of his 10 points in the first half. Dakota Mathias scored three points and did not attempt a 3-pointer until the final 30 seconds. When he rolled in for a late layup attempt, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver seemingly came out of nowhere to swat it off the glass.
It was that kind of night for both him and the Boilermakers, who could not counter the Red Raiders’ skilled athleticism.
“They just beat you up and take you out of your comfort zone,” Mathias said.
Evans finished with 16 points in part by making 9 of 10 at the free throw line. That’s often an aspect of the game in which Purdue flexed its muscle. But Texas Tech made 17 of 18 at the line, while the Boilermakers made 6 of 6.
Purdue worked to the rim for baskets early. It fed Matt Haarms on early possessions, and he quickly drew fouls. Vincent Edwards began sliding into the paint for layups and glass work.
The Boilermakers led 15-8 with 13:45 to play. To that point that had made 7 of their first 9 field goal attempts.
Then came a scoring drought that last nearly eight minutes. Purdue began turning the ball over with more frequency. When it seemed the Boilermakers had weathered the storm, Niem Stevenson beat the shot clock with a 3 to snap the Red Raiders’ own long scoreless streak.
Justin Gray began exploiting Purdue’s defense from the mid-range and scored eight first-half points. Texas Tech took a 30-25 lead into halftime.
Purdue again played without senior center Isaac Haas, who was ruled out for the rest of the tournament after fracturing his right elbow in the opening-round victory over Cal State Fullerton.
After the game, Haas said he will have surgery Monday in Indianapolis. He was told recovery will take 2-3 months.
The Boilermakers professed that Haas’ injury would not derail their tournament run. Friday, however, his absence was noticeable.
When Purdue needed a basket during those scoring droughts, it could not look to the 7-2, 290-pound mountain in the middle who ranks among the most efficient low-post scorers in program history. When the Boilermakers similarly fed Haarms, Texas Tech swarmed him with double and triple teams — scenarios he’s not yet as adept at handling as Haas.
Somewhat fittingly, defensive rebounding loomed at the heart of Purdue’s season-ending loss. The Boilermakers could never completely correct that problem — identified early in the offseason after Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb “Biggie” Swanigan’s departure to the NBA.
Texas Tech came in averaging 11 offensive rebounds per game. It finished with that same number, but a 17-11 edge in second-chance points proved integral to how the Red Raiders built their lead.
“They played above the rim,” Haarms said. “We knew they were extremely athletic coming into the game. I guess we just weren’t ready,”
In many ways, this season could be considered a superior one to the 2016-17 Big Ten championship campaign.
Purdue surpassed modest preseason expectations to mount a school-record 19-game winning streak, reach No. 3 in the national polls and challenge for a repeat league title. The nucleus of four seniors capped their careers by leading the first Boilermaker team to win 30 games in a season.
Yet that wasn’t a popular sentiment in the postgame locker room, where thoughts centered on the four departing seniors and an unfulfilling NCAA Tournament plateau.
“We did all we could for Purdue,” Thompson said. “We didn’t go out the way we wanted to. We wanted to get to a Final Four. We thought that was a realistic opportunity for us this year. We just didn’t get it done.”