Purdue’s season ends in CBI as rally falls short against Santa Clara
By Michael Osipoff 648-3137 or firstname.lastname@example.org March 25, 2013 10:52PM
Updated: April 27, 2013 6:32AM
WEST LAFAYETTE — Say this for Purdue. With its season, having generally already gone awry, ending in a relatively unheralded tournament, it didn’t quit, showing a spirit that occasionally had been missing.
But it still wasn’t enough to get a win on Monday night.
The Boilermakers’ season came to a close with an 86-83 loss to Santa Clara at Mackey Arena in the quarterfinals of the CBI. In the waning seconds, Terone Johnson had two shots that would have tied the score, after they had trailed by 12 points with less than six minutes left and 10 with less than two.
Ultimately, Kevin Foster was too much for the Boilermakers (16-18), as he poured in a season-high 34 points, including 28 in the second half, for the Broncos (23-11).
“Just being competitive and that determination,” Terone Johnson said of Purdue’s effort.
“We just tried to play hard all the way through so we could try to leave on somewhat of a good note leading into next year. Obviously, we wanted to win, but we still fought hard.”
After a frenzied comeback attempt by Purdue, Johnson, who had 22 points, missed a 3-pointer — the Boilermakers went 1-of-11 from deep in the game — from the right wing as time expired, after Foster missed the second of two free throws with 4.1 seconds left, D.J. Byrd rebounded and pitched the ball ahead. With about 10 seconds left and the Boilermakers down by two points following a Santa Clara turnover, Johnson had missed a step-back jumper after the Broncos cut off his attempt to drive.
Ronnie Johnson — had a career-high 27 points, easily eclipsing his previous best of 16 in his freshman season — helped fuel Purdue’s try at a rally.
“Coach (Matt) Painter said he put us in this tournament to see how hard we were going to play,” he said. “I thought we fought pretty well.”
After scoring six points on 2-of-10 shooting in the first half, Foster exploded for 28 on 9-of-14 in the second. Many of those shots were contested.
“They were playing good defense in the first half, but I was getting good looks, I just wasn’t making them,” said Foster, who also had eight assists for the Broncos, who went 9-of-22 from 3-point range — having entered the game averaging 8-of-22. “My teammates have had trust in me the entire year to make shots and to keep taking shots, and I have confidence in myself as well. I just kept taking the shots that presented themselves, and thankfully they went in in the second half.”
Said Terone Johnson: “We started off the game into him a lot more. In the second half, we were lot more lenient on him, and he hit some tough, tough shots. Once he got space, he got going.”
Painter had high praise for Foster, Santa Clara’s career scoring leader with more than 2,300 points.
“He played like a senior going down the stretch,” he said. “He was going to take those shots. For a lot of people, those are bad shots, but for him, it’s a rhythm thing. … He’s the best scorer we’ve faced all year, there’s no doubt about it. Trey Burke’s a very good lead guard, maybe the best player in the country. But in terms of a guy playing the two, and being able to put the ball in the basket, he’s the best we’ve faced all year.”
Santa Clara coach Kerry Keating appreciated the fact that Purdue played in the event.
“To have to decide to play in a tournament like this, I know that’s not an easy proposition when you’re building a program back to where it needs to be like Matt is,” he said.
“It will get there, obviously, with a lot of young kids and a lot of tough kids in a league that might be the best in the country right now. … It speaks volumes to the character of the Purdue program.”
The Boilermakers are hoping to use this experience to help them return to the NCAA Tournament next season, after their streak of six straight trips came to an end this season.
“This isn’t where you want to be, but it’s also life,” Painter said. “Sometimes in life, you’re not exactly where you want to be, but make the most of it. Do what’s best for your program, do what’s best for your players, even if they might not agree with it. … I wanted our guys to continue to fight, because I thought at times during the season, we didn’t have the fight necessary to beat people in our league. It’s one thing if the ball doesn’t go in, or maybe you’re not quite talented enough, but you should keep fighting people. Even against our rival (Indiana) a couple times, I didn’t think we had the necessary fight. So when I had to make my decision at the end, I thought this was the best thing to do, to play. And I still feel that way, because I’m not going to give in to it.”