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Purdue’s Youth Not Enough, Loses First Game To The Hoosiers Since 2016

Purdue seniors struggled in Assembly Hall.
(FILE PHOTO: Casey Abbett)
Purdue seniors struggled in Assembly Hall.

Following a dramatic road win earlier in the week against Illinois, the No. 4 Purdue Boilermakers suffered a disheartening loss to their in-state rival, the Indiana Hoosiers, 68-65, in Bloomington Thursday night.

Previous to the loss, Purdue (15-3, 4-3 in conference) had won nine in a row against Indiana (14-4, 5-3), its longest streak since 1935. Purdue had also won five straight in Assembly Hall. But things are different in Bloomington under Mike Woodson, their first-year coach and a Hoosier alum.

IU senior Rob Phinisse, a native of West Lafayette, scored the go-ahead basket on a three-pointer from the corner with 17 seconds left in the game to give Indiana the lead, 66-65, for good. Phinisse finished with a team-high 20 points off the bench, including four three-pointers, and accounted for the bulk of IU’s 35 points off the bench.

The Boilers, who are ranked No. 1 in Big Ten scoring (85 points per game), struggled from the field and from the free throw line where they typically do a lot of damage. Before Thursday, the Boilermakers had outscored their opponents by 138 points at the charity stripe. But against the Hoosiers, Purdue missed ten of 17 free throws (41%), its worst percentage of the season.

“We were still in the game, we just didn’t reward ourselves by making our free throws,” said coach Matt Painter. “If you go 7-for-17 from the free throw line, and they get into a possession game you’re definitely going to reflect back on the and want some of those free throws back.”

A trio of sophomores shouldered the offensive load for the Old Gold and Black. Jaden Ivey scored a game-high 21 points, 19 in the second half. Mason Gillis and Zach Edey scored 13 and 12, respectively, with both shooting 5-for-6 from the field. Edey also pulled down a team-high nine rebounds.

Indiana shut down two of Purdue’s top three offensive threats this season–Sasha Stefanovic and Trevion Williams. Their combined scoring average this season is 25.2 points a game, but Williams scored only two points while committing four turnovers while Stefanovic was only 1-for-7 from three-point range and finished with seven points.

Stefanovic was coming off a 22-point performance in Purdue’s win at Illinois.

The Boilers’ loss stings because they remain stuck squarely in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten with slightly more than a month left in the regular season.

The Boilermakers will look to bounce back with a home game against Northwestern on Sunday. Tip-off is set at 1 p.m.

Casey Abbett is a senior at Purdue from LaCrosse, Indiana, and has been been interning as a sports reporter for WBAA since his freshman year.