WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Purdue refused to let Boston College come to its Mackey Arena, where the retired number (13) of the legendary John Wooden hung in the rafters, and allow the Eagles to plant their conference flag in Wednesday night’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge game.
The Boilermakers wanted to represent.
And Purdue (7-2) accomplished that by handing the Eagles (3-5) an 88-67 smackdown before a boisterous crowd of 12,926 as the Boilermakers remained undefeated at home in six games and undefeated in their last five ACC/Big Ten Challenge contests.
“Since my freshman year, we’ve tried to do our part to win these challenges and show that we have the best conference,’’ said Purdue senior Terone Johnson, who led his team with 18 points on 8-for-15 shooting. “We feel like we did our part.’’
After rebounding from an 0-3 start by winning three of its last four, BC embarked on a cross-country trek — starting at Purdue and culminating Sunday at Southern Cal — in hopes of breaking even and then climbing above .500 for the first time this season.
But the Eagles, who were led by Ryan Anderson’s 16 points in 25 foul-plagued minutes, were overmatched by their hosts from the outset.
“I thought Purdue really came out with a purpose tonight,’’ said BC coach Steve Donahue, whose team also got 15 points from Olivier Hanlan, including 10 in the second half, and 13 from Alex Dragicevich, all in the first half.
“I thought Matt [Painter] had his kids ready to go right from the tip. I thought they really took it to us.’’
The Boilermakers, who not only remained unbeaten in three all-time meetings against BC but undefeated in nine all-time games vs. four Massachusetts teams (they’re 2-0 apiece against Boston University, Northeastern, and UMass), broke a 20-20 tie by going on a decisive 19-3 run in which the Eagles were held to a foul shot by Anderson and a foul-inducing putback by Will Magarity, who missed the foul shot.
BC was outrebounded, 39-37, and made 13 turnovers, leading to 17 Purdue points.
“We were very soft with the ball tonight,’’ Donahue said. “We had four travels and a couple of live-ball turnovers that led to transitions, as well. I was very disappointed in that. Give Purdue credit, because they did a real good job of taking us out of stuff and getting into us.
“They played really good defense and we kind of deserved what we got.’’
Freshman guard Kendall Stephens (11 points) triggered the explosive Purdue run, hitting back-to-back treys which he followed with a long baseline jumper. Freshman Basil Smotherman followed with a trey of his own to give the Boilermakers their first double-digit lead of the game, 31-21.
After Magarity’s putback made it 31-23, Smotherman threw down a resounding back-door dunk to trigger an 8-0 spurt that capped the run, expanding Purdue’s lead to 39-23 with 5:07 to go. After Purdue led by as many as 17, 47-30, with 2:05 left before intermission, Dragicevich drained a trey then hit the second of two foul shots to pull BC within 13.
The Eagles gained possession with about 32 seconds left but were unable to execute a play they hoped would cut the lead to 10. KC Caudill was called for traveling, and Ronnie Johnson (15 points) raced back downcourt for an uncontested basket that gave the Boilermakers a 49-34 lead at halftime.
“That play before the half was kind of our night,’’ Donahue lamented.
Things got worse for the Eagles when Anderson picked up his third personal 47 seconds into the second half and Purdue expanded its lead to 20 on Jay Simpson’s strong low-post move, making it 54-34 with 18:34 to go.
Hanlan, held to 5 first-half points on 1-for-6 shooting, heated up and scored on back-to-back lane penetrations to pull BC within 54-38. But 14 seconds after Anderson threw down a dunk that cut Purdue’s lead to 56-40, he was forced to depart with 17:01 left after picking up his fourth personal.
It was not the way Anderson had hoped the game would go for him on his 21st birthday.
The Eagles got within 13 when Anderson, who re-entered with 11 minutes remaining, went to the line for a pair of foul shots. Hanlan scored on a dribble penetration, then Anderson hit two more foul shots, and Hanlan made it 72-59 on his hard drive with 7:57 to go.
But that was as close as they’d get.
“At times this year, we’ve played a really rough schedule and played some really good teams,’’ Donahue said. “But we’ve figured out ways to stay in the games and have a chance. We got outworked, out-toughed, and it’s my job to make sure we’re more prepared the next time.’’Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.