WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Purdue broke open a close game by holding UNCW to four field goals and 19 percent shooting in the second half to clip the Seahawks, 66-40, in a non-conference men’s basketball game on Thanksgiving Eve at Mackey Arena.
The Boilermakers of the Big Ten Conference snapped a two-game losing streak and improved to 2-3 on the season, including a perfect 3-0 at home. The Seahawks dropped their third straight and tumbled to 1-3 following a winless road swing to Richmond, Ohio and Purdue.
“Our kids competed and fought hard,” said third-year UNCW Head Coach Buzz Peterson. “We had some good looks. It’s been a tough stretch for us and we just need to keep our heads up and take care of the home court advantage this weekend.”
Junior guard Terone Johnson led all players in the contest with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting for the Boilermakers. Senior guard D.J. Byrd chipped in 10 points and freshman center A.J. Hammons had 10 points off the bench.
Senior forward Keith Rendleman scored 14 points and junior guard Tanner Milson added 13 for the Seahawks, who held to season lows in scoring (40), field goals (15) and field goal percentage (.326).
Legendary NCAA coach John Wooden played collegiately in West Lafayette and his alma mater’s 2012-13 squad was up to the task Wednesday night against the visitors from North Carolina. The Boilermakers, who blasted CAA member Hofstra 83-54 back on Nov. 11, added another CAA scalp by pulling away from the Seahawks down the stretch.
After Terone Johnson drained a buzzer-beating triple to give Purdue a narrow 29-28 lead at intermission, the second half began with a flurry.
The Boilermakers were called for a flagrant foul just 53 seconds into the period and Milson sank both free throws to give the Seahawks only their second lead of the game, 30-29. Just 20 seconds later, however, the Seahawks were called for a flagrant foul and Byrd dropped in both free throws to hand the Boilermakers the lead for good, 31-30.
Byrd’s free throws keyed a 13-2 run over the next 8:01 that gave the Boilermakers some much-needed separation. Five different players scored in the spurt for Purdue and Travis Carroll’s bucket underneath pushed the margin to 44-30 with 11:24 remaining.
UNCW missed its first nine field goal attempts in the second hand and didn’t find the bottom of the net until reserve guard Luke Hager hit a spinning jumper in the lane at 9:33.
UNCW chipped away at the deficit and still trailed, 49-37, at 8:19 when the Boilermakers reeled off a decisive 15-0 run to put the game out of reach. Hammons was the catalyst in the rally, scoring seven points on a variety of shots in the paint.
The Seahawks opened the game connecting on only one of their first five field goal attempts to fall behind, 15-4, before crawling back into the contest. Rendleman went to work inside and Tanner Milson’s trifecta from the left corner sliced the deficit to 19-18 at 8:38.
But Purdue scored seven straight points to jump back in front, 26-18, until UNCW rallied for 10 unanswered points to grab its first lead. A driving layup by Cedrick Williams gave the Seahawks a 28-26 edge with 10.6 seconds left.
Johnson then gave the Boilermakers the momentum heading into the break when he sank a long three-ball on the right side at the buzzer, regaining the lead for the Boilermakers at intermission.
The Seahawks head back home on Thanksgiving Day to entertain Hampton and Wofford in the final three games of the Nations of Coaches exempt tournament this weekend at Trask Coliseum. UNCW faces Wofford on Saturday and Hampton the next day in a pair of 2 p.m. tip-offs. The Terriers and Pirates also play a neutral game Friday at 2 p.m. at Trask Coliseum.
GAME NOTES: The Seahawks have now lost nine straight road games spanning over to last season…UNCW’s last road win came on Jan. 21, 2012, at William & Mary…UNCW is 3-8 lifetime against the Big Ten Conference…UNCW’s Luke Hager and Purdue’s Anthony Johnson were high school teammates at Whitney Young HS in Chicago…UNCW remains winless in five tries against Indiana opponents…UNCW had 18 turnovers…The Seahawks had seven assists on 15 baskets…UNCW went 0-for-5 behind the arc in the second period…Purdue had 10 steals…The Boilermakers owned a 40-24 rebounding advantage…Terone Johnson made all three of his three-point field goal attempts…UNCW had just five offensive rebounds…Keith Rendleman and Cedrick Williams grabbed seven rebounds apiece for the Seahawks.