Purdue may not have known that fellow 5-seed, Baylor, went down to defeat in the dreaded 5-12 matchup in the NCAA tournament. However, it made sure to repeat the mistake of its fellow “Power 5” team, dropping its first round tourney game to 12th seeded Arkansas-Little Rock, 85-82, in double overtime.
A star was born, as UALR’s Josh Hagins poured in a game-high 30 points on 10 of 20 shooting. He also added seven rebounds and six assists in the winning effort.
Even two Purdue players with double double’s weren’t enough to get the victory for the higher-seeded Boilermakers. Vince Edwards had a team-high 24 points to go with 12 rebounds, while A.J. Hammons had 16 points to go with a team-high 15 rebounds.
It was all for naught though, as the Boilermakers found a way to squander a 13-point lead in the final five minutes of the second half.
After a close first half and a steady-as-she-goes start to the second half, Purdue began to turn its advantages (height and rebounding) in to a large lead. With just five minutes remaining, the Boilermakers held a 13-point lead at 63-49.
However, everything changed at that point and it was all Spartans momentum from there on. UALR went on a 15-2 run over the next four minutes and that meant it was just 65-64 Boilermakers with just 55 seconds left to play.
Purdue thought a three-pointer from Robert Mathias to push the lead to 68-64 would’ve done the trick, but the Spartans answered right back with a triple of their own and it was back to a one-possession game.
The Boilermakers got a pair of clutch free throws from Vince Edwards with just 17 seconds left to go up 70-67.
UALR wasn’t going down without a fight though, and of course it was Hagins hitting a triple to tie the game with 5 seconds remaining. Overtime was to come as Purdue could do nothing following the Hagins make.
The first overtime was a complete dud, as both teams scored just five points in the extra period and it ended 75-75.
Purdue just couldn’t answer in the second overtime, and UALR took advantage for a 5-0 run to start the second OT period. The Boilers fought back, eventually whittling the lead down to one point with 11 seconds left.
However, a bad pass off a missed UALR free throw set in motion a bad chain of offensive events for Purdue. Johnny Hill took an awkward pass and nearly gave it away himself in the backcourt, but he also gathered himself and attempted a drive.
Except he got his feet tangled with the defender and was forced to throw up a wild shot that never had a chance.
Thus ended any real hope for the 5th-seeded Boilermakers, who were bounced in the first round of the NCAA tournament for the second straight season.
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