Chris Quinn had the hot hand for the Irish in the half and knocked down 13 points. Quinn's aggressive play on both ends of the floor was the reason the Irish had the lead at halftime. Rick Cornett came in from the bench and contributed 8 points.
For the half the Irish shot 50 percent, 14-28, while holding Purdue to 38.7 percent 12-31. The Boilers held a 21 to 15 rebounding edge in the opening period.
The second half saw Purdue come out and stretch their defense, which shut the Irish down, while picking it up on the offensive end. At the 18:02 mark, the Irish led 43-30. Over the next nine minutes Purdue went on a 13-0 run and tied the game at 43.
During the next five minutes the Irish kept two and three point leads until Purdue pulled ahead 52-51 with eight minutes to go. The Irish regained the lead with five minutes remaining and from this point took the steam out of the Boilers by outscoring them 18-7 for a 12-point victory.
The final 3 points for the Irish were scored by walk-on Greg Bosl as he hit a 3-pointer from beyond the half court line as the horn sounded.
Chris Quinn led all scorers with 21. Rick Cornett finished with a career high 16, including 8-for-8 from the free throw line. Chris Thomas contributed 11 points and Jason Cornette added nine.
The Irish shot 40 percent for the game, 20-50, including 9-21 from 3-point range and were 22-27 from the foul line. The visitors shot 39 percent from the field, 23-59, and 33.3 percent from 3-point range, 6-18. Purdue won the battle of the boards by a 39-34 count.
Coach Brey was pleased with Rick Cornett's play, "He is just getting more confident," said Brey of Cornett. "I think we saw it the last couple weeks of the season, certainly against Connecticut. If you have that kind of outing, even if you don't win, you have a better feeling about yourself. I think his teammates and I continued to pump him up. Some of the catches he made of tough passes and scraping them off the floor were quite frankly amazing. That is one reason that I don't want to stop playing, as he keeps getting better and I don't want to put the balls away as he keeps getting better and I want this young man to keep blossoming."
Although the JC was not sold out, there was plenty of noise from both set of fans and Coach felt, "It was a great atmosphere. I don't know if we have had a better atmosphere all season and we have had some great teams and great games come through. Purdue really defended us in the second half. We had a hard time the first ten minutes getting any looks. I thought we were able to rely on our defense when we couldn't score, which has been our identity."
"We had some guys hit some big shots," Brey continued. "Tom and Chris's shots were big shots. I thought the atmosphere was great when they introduced their team and you heard a good contingent of Purdue fans. My Mother was not one of them as I would not let her attend (Coach Brey's mother is a Purdue grad). I think this is what the NIT is all about. We had a great atmosphere, our fans, their fans, and it was a heckava college basketball atmosphere."
Chris Quinn's 21 points and overall performance was pleasing to Coach Brey. "I had Quinn in this afternoon and had a highlight tape put together by Coach Inglesby of him being aggressive. And I said, 'Chris I need you to be aggressive right from the tap. You need to go after it right away,' and I didn't know he would score our first eleven. When he is waiting to get in the flow, we're in trouble. He and Chris need to attack right away."
Chris Quinn has a lot of respect for the Purdue team, "They are a very tough team," Quinn said. "In the second half they really decided to play defense on us and got out and extend on us. They did a great job of being physical with us, and on our offensive end, we struggled a little bit but luckily we were able to do some things on the defensive end."
Quinn feels the NIT is a good tournament, "There are some great teams in this tournament who didn't make the NCAA. Once we got past a little disappointment of not making the NCAA, we started to focus on this for our seniors. We just want to keep playing and for the guys coming back next year this is a great experience.for us."
Torrian Jones was hyped and ready to take on Purdue, "Before the game I said it was going to be a tournament-like atmosphere," said Jones. "We knew they were going to bring their Purdue fans and pack the place and we knew our fans would be behind us and supporting us like they have all year long. So we knew the atmosphere would be electric and the game kind of reflected the atmosphere as there were runs on both sides and there were exciting plays on both sides. We were able to do the things we do best to get the win down the stretch."
The Irish take the next step in the NIT tournament when they face St. Louis University. The time and place of the game will likely be announced Thursday morning.