Lewis Jackson scored 26 points and Robbie Hummel added 20 as the Purdue Boilermakers held off the Temple Owls, 85-77, in the second round of the 5-Hour Energy Puerto Rico Tip-Off. Jackson scored 22 points in the second half, making a big shot every time Temple (2-1) threatened to keep Purdue (4-0) in the lead.
The semifinal match-up featured the Boilermakers holding the lead for a large majority of the game, with the Owls making run after run to try and finally catch Matt Painter’s squad. Foul problems prevented Temple from sustaining any momentum, though, with center Michael Eric and guard Khalif Wyatt both having to sit for stretches due to foul issues.
Eric was a key player for Temple when he was in the game, picking up eight rebounds to go along with seven points, but he was limited to just 14 minutes in a closely-called game. Wyatt added 12 points and an even more important three steals in his 27 minutes, but was forced to play more passively after picking up his fourth foul with 12:15 remaining.
The Temple defense did a good job of limiting the Boilermakers, holding them to just six-of-16 shooting (37.5 percent) from beyond the arc. The real difference came at the free-throw line, where Purdue overcame five first-half misses (they went just three-of-eight) to finish 27-of-33 for the line, effectively icing the game in the second half.
Temple had one lead in the latter twenty minutes, going up 40-39 on a Ramone Moore layup with 15:31 to play. Moore had a game-high 27 points for the Owls, including 20 after halftime when he was much more aggressive taking the ball to the hoop. Moore took 15 free throws, but the whistle-heavy game really favored the deeper Boilermakers.
After Temple took that brief lead earlier in the half, Purdue put their foot on the gas pedal, led by their senior guard, Lewis Jackson. The 5’9” dynamo scored 10 of 12 points for Purdue at one point, taking a 53-50 advantage and turning it into a 65-56 ballgame.
Temple’s chances took a big hit with 5:40 remaining in the game when Juan Fernandez was whistled for a “freedom of movement” foul and then a technical afterwards while exchanging wrds with Kelsey Barlow, his fourth and fifth of the game. The resulting Barlow free throws made the score 67-58, and hope seemed dim for Temple fans.
However, the life wasn’t completely out of Fran Dunphy’s squad. Ramone Moore scored five straight points for Temple after a T.J. DiLeo layup made it 67-60, and suddenly the Owls were down just two with 3:30 remaining.
Michael Eric’s fifth foul was the final big play of the game, when the graduate student was whistled on a box-out on a made free throw attempt, giving Purdue two extra free throws and changing a late three-point lead into a five-point one. The highly questionable call wasn’t the only one the referees made in this game, but it came at a key moment in the ballgame and Eric’s presence was clearly very beneficial to the Owls on both defense and offense.
The second half was less back-and-forth than the first, when Temple actually held a lead of as many as six, 19-13. Purdue then got hot, hitting nine straight shots to take a 34-24 lead before Terone Johnson finally missed for Purdue. Temple scored the last six points of the half to make it 34-30 going into the locker rooms.
Temple plays in the consolation game against the Alabama/Witchita State loser on Sunday at 5:30pm on ESPN2.
Josh Verlin is the college sports editor for BuzzOnBroad.com. Follow him on Twitter