“Most guys don’t play well when they have a homecoming like this,” said Oregon State coach Craig Robinson, the brother-in-law of President Barack Obama. “Devon has proven me wrong four times.”
Collier, who grew up in the Bronx and went to St. Anthony High School, scored 21 points Thursday in a 65-62 loss to Alabama.
He spoke after that game about how much he wanted to win and how great it was to play in front of his family and former coaches because the Beavers don’t often travel across the country to the East Coast.
“It was a good feeling to have my family around to see me play,” said Collier, who shot 9 for 15 from the field and 9 of 11 at the foul line Friday in 30 minutes off the bench.
Robinson said Collier’s choice of Oregon State has been “a match made in heaven” and the coach is excited that the move has helped him land another recruit from St. Anthony, Hollis Cook.
“So we’ll be trying to play here every year if we can,” Robinson said.
Roberto Nelson added 10 points for the Beavers (3-1), who squandered a 15-point cushion in the second half before taking over again in the final 2 minutes.
Oregon State dominated the boards 47-36 and overcame a right knee injury to center Angus Brandt, who had nine points and nine rebounds. He left the game late in the second half and will be evaluated by doctors when the team returns home.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this team,” Robinson said.
The score was tied at 56 with 2 minutes to play when Collier put Oregon State ahead to stay by sinking a pair of free throws to start a decisive 8-0 run.
Eric Moreland made a 3-pointer from the left wing with 58.3 seconds remaining and Collier got free for a dunk 15 seconds later off a pass from Ahmad Starks.
A free throw by Starks capped the surge, making it 64-56 with 33.9 seconds to go before a scattered crowd in Madison Square Garden.
“Obviously, the difference in my opinion was the rebounding in the first half by Oregon State. I thought they came out and punched us in the mouth and just had their way with us on the interior,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “We came back and tied the game, but I think it took a lot out of us to fight back and to get into that position and they were able to make some plays down the stretch.
“Our guys were not as physical as they needed to be.”
Freshman center A.J. Hammons had 20 points and eight rebounds off the bench for the Boilermakers (1-3), who lost in overtime to Villanova 89-81 in the semifinals Thursday night after leading by eight with 1:27 remaining in regulation.
D.J. Byrd added 11 and Anthony Johnson scored 10.
Collier slithered through the lane for 17 first-half points to help Oregon State build a 39-28 lead on the strength of a 30-16 rebounding advantage.
Purdue outrebounded its first three opponents by more than 11 boards per game, but the Beavers countered that with their big front line. Oregon State grabbed 14 more rebounds than Alabama in the semifinals.
“It was just being tough. Coach told us they were going to be tough, and to be physical. And that’s what we did,” said Collier, whose previous career high was 25 points against Hofstra last season. “They’re a very aggressive team and we (weren’t) going to let them push us around. So, we just responded well and played physical with them.”
Beefy forward Joe Burton scored the first four points of the second half to make it a 15-point cushion, but the Boilermakers finally clamped down on defense. On the other end they went inside to the 7-foot Hammons, who had a big second half.
Hammons scored three straight baskets down low for Purdue and his three-point play a few minutes later trimmed the deficit to 56-54 with 3:22 to go. Hammons tied it with two free throws at the 2:17 mark.
“He needed to probably get a couple touches down the stretch,” Painter said.
Brandt, a 6-foot-10 senior from Australia, went down clutching his right knee when he was called for traveling at the top of the key with 5:19 remaining. He stayed down for a few minutes and a stretcher was brought onto the court, but Brandt was helped back to the bench. He did not return.
Collier came off the bench and scored 13 straight points for Oregon State in the first half. The limber lefty had a trio of three-point plays to go with a sweet spin move in the lane and an authoritative dunk.
Starks’ 3-pointer capped a 13-5 run that put the Beavers up 22-13 with 11 minutes to go in the first half.
Purdue finished 9 of 16 (56 percent) at the foul line in the first meeting between the schools.
“We’ve just got to do a better job of executing, of being smart and playing smart,” Painter said.
Purdue’s Ronnie Johnson had a mishap with his jersey. He came off the bench wearing No. 32, with no name on the back, rather than his usual No. 3.
“We just need to grow up as a team, to be honest with you,” Painter said, without going into further detail. “We have an immature team right now. ... It doesn’t mean they’re bad guys, they just need to be more accountable and take care of their backyard.”