NEW YORK — Purdue is heading back to the Big Ten Championship Game.
After faltering near the end of the regular season and suffering a three-game losing streak, No. 3 seed Purdue (28-5) rolled over No. 7 seed Penn State (21-13) 78-70 in the tournament’s second semifinal matchup.
WHY: Penn State took a 7-point lead late in the first half. But Purdue used a 7-0 run over the first half’s final 44 seconds, during which Penn State coach Patrick Chambers picked up a technical foul and Carsen Edwards nailed a 3-pointer with 5 seconds remaining to give the Boilermakers a 33-31 lead.
Penn State commanded a massive advantage on the offensive glass 16-7. But it mattered little in the grand scheme of the game, because the Nittany Lions couldn’t convert those second chances into points.
The story of the game came down to which team made shots. Purdue did and Penn State didn’t. While Purdue finished shooting 53 percent from the field and 11 of 21 from 3-point range, Penn State shot 32 percent and went 8 for 22 from beyond the arc.
A big reason for that disparity was because Purdue’s defense also proved to be too much for Penn State.
WHAT IT MEANS: Purdue is going to its second Big Ten Championship Game in three years. The Boilermakers lost to Michigan State in the 2016 contest and haven’t won the conference tournament since 2009, when Robbie Hummel was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player. It will be the Boilermakers’ fourth time playing in the game.
Purdue’s opponent will be Michigan, the defending tournament champion. The Wolverines have won three games in three days after failing to earn a double-bye into the quarterfinals.
WHO STARRED: Purdue’s Edwards has been the most electric player in the tournament. He was 6 for 8 from behind the 3-point line and finished with 27 points. Isaac Haas was a nice complement on the inside, scoring 17 points on 5 of 7 from the field.
Shep Garner carried the load for the Nittany Lions, pouring in 33 points.
WHO STUMBLED: Vincent Edwards managed just 7 points on 2 of 9 shooting for Purdue.
No one shot particularly well for Penn State, obviously. Lamar Stevens was 4 of 12, Tony Carr went 4 for 17 and Josh Reaves missed on all 8 of his field-goal attempts.
WHO IS NEXT: Purdue will take on Michigan in the tournament’s championship game Sunday at 4:30 p.m. ET (CBS).
WHO WAS THERE: NCAA Tournament chairman Bruce Rasmussen, who also serves as Creighton’s athletic director, stayed courtside for this matchup after watching Michigan vs. Michigan State from the same spot. If Purdue takes home the tournament crown Sunday, it will have made its case for a No. 1 seed in the Big Dance.
FINAL: Purdue 78, Penn State 70 pic.twitter.com/96ujmVQWFl
— Chris Bumbaca (@BOOMbaca) March 4, 2018