The saying goes that 'every good thing must come to an end.' And so it has; the Baylor Bears' storybook story season ended as they dropped a first round matchup to the favored Purdue Boilermakers in Washington D.C.; 90-79.
In a game that probably had better storylines than highlights, the Purdue Boilermakers showed why they were the favored team coming into their matchup with the Baylor Bears. The Boilermakers, led by sophomore Keaton Grant, put on a shooting clinic in front of the crowd at the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. dropping in 19 points. The Boilermakers shot 51% from the field for the game while the Baylor Bears struggled early and struggled from beyond the arc. Curtis Jerrells led both teams in scoring pouring in 27 points in a tireless effort.
In the end, the lack of defensive intensity by the Bears allowed the young Purdue team to hit early, gain confidence, and build a lead in the first half that they never relinquished. The Bears trailed by 19 points at halftime, and allowed Purdue to score 90 points in the game; the most points they have scored all season.
Baylor never got on track from beyond the arc only hitting 28% of their three point attempts, while Purdue hit 44%. Baylor freshman Lacedarius Dunn, while scoring 15 points, struggled finding his stroke, a stroke the Baylor Bears desperately needed in a run late in the game. Henry Dugat chipped in with 15 as well for the Bears and Kevin Rogers recorded 9 points.
Four Purdue players scored in double digits: Keaton Grant with 19, E'twuan Moore scored 16, Tarrance Crump dropped in 11, and Chris Kramer scored 10. The Boilermakers outrebounded the Bears 36-34, recorded more blocked shots 6-0, and shot better from the charity stripe 83%-75%.
Purdue moves on to face Xavier in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Bears are headed home, but not before gaining valuable experience. Although austrailian senior Aaron Bruce played in his final game for the green and gold, he was able to see the fruits of his labor as his team reached the NCAA Tournament; a goal he set when he decided to play for Scott Drew and the Baylor Bears. Senior Richard Hurd, a walk-on, also contributed in his playing career at Baylor, perhaps none more than two free throws in the epic five overtime win against the Texas A&M Aggies. Mark Shepherd, another senior walk-on, also played his last minutes as a Baylor Bear. His energy and hustle won over many fans.
So, while the Bears board a plane, perhaps they think about what could have been, perhaps they will think about what should have been in this tournament. But they will walk away knowing that they were part of one of the biggest, if not the biggest, turnarounds in college basketball history. That, in itself, is an accomplishment in itself.
Bears Fall To Purdue; 90-79
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