Cold Shooting Boilers Hold off Penn St.
The old saying is “there’s no place like home,” and it had been awhile since Purdue played a home game. The Boilers have been on the road their last four games before returning to Mackey Arena to face Penn St. on Sunday. For Penn St., it was just nice to finally play a game anywhere. The Nittany Lions haven’t played since a loss at Indiana on December 30, due to Covid concerns on the team. Both teams looked rusty as neither team shot the ball well to start the game. Purdue missed its first fourteen three point attempts, and Penn St. only made one of its first eleven attempts. However, the Boilermakers took a 33-32 at halftime on a Mason Gillis three-pointer at the buzzer. A Gillis three to start the second half sparked a 10-0 run for the Boilermakers and the Boilermaker lead ballooned to seventeen points with a little over nine minutes to play in the game. Penn St. was never able to get closer than four the rest of the game, as the Boilers held off a furious Nittany Lion rally to win 80-72, extending its winning streak to three games.
Three Takeaways from the Game:
- Purdue found a way to win without shooting well: The Boilers shot the ball really well in its win at Indiana last game, hitting 11-17 three pointers and shooting 53% overall. That hot shooting did not continue today. Purdue missed its first fourteen three point attempts and finished just 6-32 on the game. The Boilers also shot just 40% from the field. However, a stingy defense and free throws allowed Purdue to escape when it didn’t shoot its best. Penn St. shot just 33% from the field for the game and Purdue made 24-33 free throws. “We got stops on the defensive end,” said guard Sasha Stefanovic, “and that’s what you have to do when you’re not shooting well.”
- There is more to Purdue than just Trevion Williams: Williams has carried the Boilers in its last two victories at Michigan St. and Indiana, scoring over 20 points in each game. Williams was in early foul trouble against Penn St., and the rest of the team stepped up. All five starters finished in double figures led by fifteen points from Stefanovic. “It really shows how good we can be,” guard Brandon Newman said. If Purdue continues to get this kind of balance, the sky can be the limit with this young team.
- Mason Gillis just makes winning plays: Gillis may not do a lot of things that show up in the box score, but he continues to find playing time by making big plays. In the win at Michigan St., he dove into a pile, forcing a jump ball that gave Purdue its last possession. Against Penn St., his three pointer to end the first half and his three to start the second half proved to be the spark Purdue needed. “Mason gave us a spark hitting the threes at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half, and making some hustle plays,” Coach Matt Painter said. As Gillis continues to produce, he finds himself playing more minutes.