No. 20 Purdue held off No. 10 Maryland’s frantic rally — barely — holding on for an 83-79 victory at Mackey Arena on Saturday.
A.J. Hammons led five players in double figures with 19 points. Dakota Mathias tied his career high with 17 off the bench. But the Boilermakers nearly crumbled in the final four minutes in the face of Maryland's pressure.
Hammons hit a step-back 3 with 4:13 left to give Purdue a 74-64 lead. But Maryland utilized a zone press after Melo Trimble hit a pair of free throws, and Purdue turned the ball over on four straight possessions. With Diamond Stone’s leaner and a Jared Nickens 3, Maryland cut the Boilermaker lead from 10-3 in 30 seconds.
Purdue subbed in Johnny Hill alongside P.J. Thompson to get both point guards in the game. But Hill turned the ball over on the inbounds and Jake Layman scored to tie the game 76-76.
A Hammons free throw broke the tie. Stone missed a shot at the other end, and the ball was first rule out of bounds off of Purdue. But official review gave the Boilermakers possession. Thompson broke the press, and Hill finished with a layup for a 79-76 lead.
It was 79-77 when Dakota Mathias missed a 3 late in the shot clock. But Hill pounced in for the offensive rebound, leading to two Rapheal Davis free throws and an 81-77 lead with 8.2 left.
Purdue bounced back from last Saturday’s loss at Indiana and still has not lost consecutive games this season. The victory kept alive the Boilermakers' hopes for a top-four Big Ten tournament seed and the accompanying double-bye.
The victory was Purdue’s second over a top-10 team this month. Prior to an 82-81 overtime victory over Michigan State on Feb. 9, the Boilermakers hadn’t beaten a top-10 team since 2011.
Back on Feb. 6, Maryland became the first team not to be outrebounded by Purdue when it tied them on the boards. On Saturday, however, the Boilermakers outmuscled and out-hustled early, grabbing 11 of the game’s first 12 rebounds.
For the game, Purdue finished with a 41-22 edge on rebounds, including 19 offensive boards and a 24-10 edge in second-chance points.
"Obviously the difference in the game was we couldn’t rebound, and they could," Maryland coach Mark Turgeon said.
An 18-6 first-half advantage on second-chance points was the biggest factor in Purdue’s 44-39 halftime lead. The other was Dakota Mathias’ performance off the bench in the closing four minutes.
Mathias, who along with Ryan Cline and Kendall Stephens plays inconsistent minutes in the bench guard rotation, scored nine of Purdue’s last 11 points in the half. He went 5-for-5 from the field in the first 20 minutes, even beating the halftime buzzer with an off-balance 12-footer.
Coming in, Mathias hadn’t scored more than eight points since Jan. 8 and had reached double figures only twice.
He hit his first 3 attempt of the second half, pushing his shooting start to 6-for-6. When Mathias finally missed, P.J. Thompson scored off the offensive rebound.
In the teams’ Feb. 6 meeting in College Park, Maryland, Purdue led by four points with under six minutes to play. However, a 3-for-25 shooting performance from 3-point range was too much to overcome in a 72-61 loss.
Boilermaker centers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas combined for 28 points that day. It was Purdue’s second-half shift from getting the ball inside that opened the door for the Terrapins’ rally.
So askew was Purdue’s defensive approach that day that it was never in the foul bonus in either half. On Saturday, Purdue drew nine first-half fouls, setting a physical tone it that also served it well on the boards.