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Purdue falls just short against Ohio State

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Boilers end with seven-game losing streak

Friday, March 14, 2014 - 12:20 am

INDIANAPOLIS – Purdue had a chance. In a season of inconsistency and disappointment, there was that Thursday afternoon against Ohio State.

It wasn't enough.

The Buckeyes' Aaron Craft saw to that. Tough-minded Ohio State did just enough.

And the Boilers? They, too, did just enough.

To lose close again.

So the Buckeyes (24-8) won 63-61 in a Big Ten tourney opener to earn a Friday shot at Nebraska.

"It's good to see us win one of these ugly games," Ohio State coach Thad Matta said. "Our guys made some big plays down the stretch. We were able to get out of here with a win."

Purdue (15-17) left with a loss that might have ended its season.

“We made some plays,” coach Matt Painter said. “I don't doubt their effort. But it's not good enough. We have to be more consistent. We have to take care of the ball.”

It came down to the final play. The Boilers had the ball with 1.9 seconds left trailing by two. Freshman Kendall Stephens in-bounded to senior Terone Johnson, who launched a three-point shot for the win over a rushing Lenzelle Smith of Ohio State.

Johnson's shot hit iron. He hit the floor. The clock hit zero.

There would be no dramatic Boiler victory at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

"We knew it was one second, so I could have a dribble," he said. "But I thought I had enough space to get the shot off and win the game. It looked good when it was going up."

It wasn't good when it came down. The Boilers had their seventh straight loss to ruin what had once been a promising season.

"We had 17 turnovers," Painter said, "and when you have that many, you always feel like you beat yourself."

Center A.J. Hammons led Purdue with 15 points and nine rebounds. Ronnie Johnson had 12 points but negated much of that with a career-high-tying seven turnovers. Kendall Stephens and Terone Johnson had 10 points each. Johnson added six rebounds.

Ohio State was led by Craft's 16 points, five assists and three steals. LaQuinton Ross had 19 points and 15 rebounds.

Purdue was solid in the first half, which gave it a chance despite being out-rebounded 27-12. Ohio State had 11 offensive rebounds which were good for only nine second-chance points.

The Boilers forced nine Ohio State turnovers, had eight fast-break points along with 22 points in the paint and trailed 30-27 at halftime.

Purdue inched ahead by two, then three, then four. Ohio State rallied for a five-point lead. The Boilers twice closed within one, but could get no closer.

Whether it's this postseason or next season, Terone Johnson said, a turnaround is coming. Purdue will be good again.

"There is talent in the locker room. Those guys are going to have to be consistent and listen to Coach, listen to the leaders, put together runs and play hard all the time. That's something that Coach is going to get them to do."