STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) — Accustomed to dominating in stretches lately, the 14th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers found themselves on the other end of a big score and needed a savior against a gritty Penn State team on Tuesday night.
Enter Ryan Cline.
The guard scored six of his 11 points in overtime to lift Purdue to a 74-70 victory over the Nittany Lions in a game the Boilermakers led for just 9:16.
“It rarely happens where a team outplays another one, plays harder and they lose the game especially on their home court,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “Thank the Lord Cline knocked those two shots down.”
Cline’s consecutive 3-pointers secured his team’s sixth straight win and snapped the Nittany Lions’ four-game winning streak against Top 25 teams visiting the Bryce Jordan Center.
Vincent Edwards added 14 points, Isaac Haas chipped in 13 and Dakota Mathias scored 12 for the Boilermakers (23-5, 12-3 Big Ten) who trailed 33-29 at halftime.
Tony Carr scored 21 points, Lamar Stevens added 18 and Mike Watkins finished with 11 points and 12 rebounds for Penn State (14-14, 6-9). The Nittany Lions owned the paint, even against Purdue’s towering bigs — 6-foot-8 Caleb Swanigan and the 7-2 Haas — where Penn State owned a 46-12 edge.
But the Nittany Lions couldn’t get deep shots to fall. They finished just 2 for 18 from 3-point range.
“That was as hard as we’ve played all year,” Penn State coach Patrick Chambers said. “Proud of my team. However, there’s no more moral victories here. We’ve got to get some things done. We’ve got to close out games.”
Penn State led for all but 7:35 of regulation and by as many as 10 points midway through the first half. But they surrendered the lead on a dunk by Haas with 10:13 left. The Nittany Lions used a 10-2 run and four straight baskets from Carr to send the game into overtime where Cline found his shot.
Purdue: The Boilermakers cooled off after a recent hot streak saw them dominate for large stretches of games. Purdue’s five-game winning streak entering the night included wins over Michigan State, Rutgers and Northwestern, all by at least 17 points.
Penn State: The Nittany Lions are still looking to eclipse their combined win total in January and February under Chambers. Penn State won six games for their best stretch in the two-month span a year ago and will have two more tries to surpass last year’s mark.
Painter wasn’t happy with his guard play for much of the game. He sensed confusion from his backcourt and it cost them in the form of turnovers. Ten of Purdue’s 17 giveaways were committed by guards.
“Our guard play and overall ball control, there’s no question, there were times they were hesitant,” Painter said.
BIG MAN BATTLE
As Chambers spoke with reporters, he guessed Watkins was sitting in the locker room with nothing left in the tank.
“He’s exhausted in that locker room,” Chambers said. “He battled. He went toe-to-toe with a potential lottery pick and a potential first-rounder some day in Haas because I think Haas is a pro.”
Watkins was outmuscled in his first game against Purdue’s sizable forwards when he scored just six points and grabbed only three rebounds earlier this season. He had 12 rebounds in the first half — including three straight offensive midway through the first half — that brought the crowd to a roar when he finally drew a foul and made two free throws.
SHOT CLOCK ISSUE
A shot clock mishap cost the Nittany Lions a possession in overtime. With 13 seconds left and Purdue up 72-70, Haas took a jumper and missed close to the rim with the shot clock waning. It would have run out had Shep Garner not fouled P.J. Thompson immediately afterward, however.
Chambers said he thought Garner might have believed Haas’ shot hit the rim. Instead, Thompson made both free throws to put the game out of reach.
Purdue survived a scare and its place in the poll should remain safe.
Purdue plays at Michigan on Friday.
Penn State travels to Minnesota on Friday.
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