Purdue finishes strong, beats IPFW 63-43
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) Only a handful of Division I college basketball teams have a pair of 7-footers capable of starting each night.
Purdue is among that handful with 7-foot junior A.J. Hammons and 7-2 freshman Isaac Haas, who showed their value Monday night in a 63-43 victory against in-state rival IPFW.
Haas drew the starting assignment, and the two big men combined for 23 points, 17 rebounds and six of the Boilermakers' 10 blocks.
Purdue dominated the first half, and then pulled away at the end.
Having been shocked on Saturday in a 73-70 home loss to North Florida, the Boilermakers (7-2) bounced back with a 35-19 halftime lead against the Mastodons (5-3) and finished the game with a 19-6 burst after IPFW crawled within seven.
Kendall Stephens and Hammons led Purdue with 13 points each, and Haas added 10, all in the first half.
''We made stands against the ball,'' Haas said. ''The bigs stayed in line with the ball and really played post defense. We did a better job defensively, especially A.J. IPFW is kind of big-man oriented, and when they couldn't get it into a big man, they threw up a bad shot. That was a big part of it, and our rebounding on the offensive and defensive end was pretty good.''
IPFW finished only 16 of 56 from the field (28.6 percent), and Purdue outrebounded the Mastodons 42-36.
''Isaac started well, scoring the ball inside and drawing everybody inside, and that opened some things up,'' Hammons said. ''Even though everybody's outside shot wasn't falling, things still were open.''
After leading by as many as 21 during the first half, Purdue allowed IPFW within 44-37 on Steve Forbes' dunk with 10:28 to play.
Dakota Mathias countered with a 3-pointer at 9:43, and Vince Edwards added a layup at 9:04 to push the Boilermakers to a more comfortable 49-37.
''We learned from our mistakes on Saturday,'' said Mathias, who finished with a pair of 3-pointers. ''We know we can't take any team for granted. There are people everywhere who can play. We had to learn a lesson the hard way against North Florida. A good team adjusts to what happens, and that is what we did today.''
Stephens' 3-pointer with 3:07 left essentially iced it, giving Purdue a 58-41 cushion.
IPFW coach Jon Coffman liked his team's effort but certainly not it's execution against the 7-footers.
''In the first half, I felt like we missed an opportunity,'' Coffman said. ''I don't think we gave Purdue the challenge that we are capable of doing. At the same time, I have had a poised team all year, and I was proud of their poise of not dropping their head.
''In the second half, we played with more of a mentality that is our brand. Purdue played a physical game and took us out of our rhythm. With those two weapons they have on the inside, it is tough to deal with them. They just put you in a difficult situation.''
Purdue coach Matt Painter enjoyed watching his two centers alter shots and passes.
''We wanted to make an effort to get the ball inside,'' Painter said. ''We wanted to be more patient, and I know when you do that, you get a little deliberate. But I would rather be that way and play through the shot clock a little bit. We want to make sure those two big guys have the right of first refusal. I thought A.J.'s effort was good, and those two changed a lot of shots.''
Purdue spotted the Mastodons a 3-0 lead, then countered with a 26-5 burst from the 17:49 mark through 8:03 when Stephens capped the run with a 3-pointer from the top of the arc.
IPFW started the game 3 of 22 from the field and finished the opening 20 minutes 7 of 31 (22.6 percent). Six of those missed shots were blocks by five different Boilermakers.
Using its superior size to the maximum, Purdue had 18 first-half points in the paint while IPFW had only four. The Boilermakers outrebounded the Mastodons 22-17 before intermission.
IPFW: With the loss, the Mastodons are 0-6 all-time against Purdue. ... The Mastodons are 0-20 all-time against current members of the Big Ten Conference. ... IPFW's 25-11 record last season represented the most wins and the highest winning percentage of any Indiana-based Division I men's basketball program.
Purdue: After using the same starting lineup for the season's first eight games, Boilermaker coach Matt Painter started Isaac Haas ahead of A.J. Hammons and P.J. Thompson ahead of Kendall Stephens. ... It was the first time since Dec. 7, 2013, that Painter used three freshmen in the starting lineup with Haas and Thompson joining Vince Edwards. ... The Boilermakers improved to 5-1 at home this season.
Purdue fifth-year point guard Jon Octeus entered Monday's game averaging 4.4 rebounds a game but has 19 in the past two contests, including nine against IPFW.
''Jon usually is guarded by a point guard, and point guards rarely block out well,'' Painter said. ''We tell him to just go get the ball, and recently, he has done a great job of doing just that.''
Stephens' long 3-pointer with 3:09 to play capped a 14-4 Purdue run and created a 58-41 lead after IPFW had closed to within 44-37.
IPFW hosts Michigan-Dearborn on Thursday.
Purdue hosts Arkansas State on Wednesday.
(Previous versions of this story incorrectly stated in the extended headline that Kendall Stephens and A.J. Hammons scored 31.)