MILWAUKEE — The Boilers lost a close game to Marquette University 66-55 Wednesday night.
With about five minutes remaining in the game, the Golden Eagles took the lead. That's when things began to boil. On the next possession, sophomore forward Aaron Wheeler picked up his fifth foul. Then, junior guard Nojel Eastern picked up his fourth. It was clear that Purdue wasn't happy about the calls, as Matt Painter was up and in the referee's ear, expressing his frustrations.
Purdue was never able to recover after losing the lead. The Boilers needed someone to step up and take the big shots, but no one could, which kept Purdue from gaining any traction.
"We don't have (a) guy we can give it to, that's going to bail us out from 30 feet," junior center Matt Haarms said. "We're going to have to play team basketball."
Coming into tonight's game, the game plan for Purdue (1-1) was clear: Don't let Howard get going. From the tip, the crowd could hear Painter yelling, "He can't catch the ball!" to Eastern, who drew the assignment of guarding Howard.
While Hunter didn't completely take him out of the game, he did enough to make Howard uncomfortable and give up the ball. He also took the role of floor general while Eastern was off the floor. Hunter led Purdue to a 13-point lead heading into the first half break.
"I thought Eric Hunter did a fabulous job," Painter said.
The second half was a different story for Purdue.
"We should have been up 20 points at halftime," Painter said. "We should have had the game at a distance. ... We were much physically tougher and quicker to the basketball in the first half and in that second half, it flipped."
The Boilers began to see their lead diminish at the start of the second half. While the season is still young, scoring after the halftime break has been a consistent problem for Purdue.
"I'm searching for all players to be tougher," Painter said. "We've come out in the second half of anything we've done so far and just not played well."
The Eagles outscored Purdue 16-7 in the first nine minutes of the second half.
"Basketball is a game of runs. It's like a boxing match," senior guard Jahaad Proctor said. "When you get hit, you've got to hit back. They hit us and we didn't respond."
The Boilers struggled to find good shots and were forced to play late into the shot clock. When Purdue did find good looks, it was unable to knock shots down.
The shots down low that Purdue found so much success with during the first half were no longer available. The Boilers' rebounding advantage also began to fade away as the Eagles seemed to be quicker to the ball throughout the second half.
Purdue's inability to find good shots ultimately led to its demise and gave Marquette the victory.