Purdue often allowed FDU’s rotation of small guards, who entered and exited plays like a hockey team, sliding around screens to get easy looks at the basket. However, FDU, which led most of the game, was a bit inconsistent, shooting less than 40 percent.
But its defense ran more than 250 plays against Purdue’s elaborately designed offense, including routine full-court presses and double teams from Eadie.
“A lot of times they have a guy guarding from behind and a guy basically sitting on my lap,” Edey, the national player of the year, said with frustration after the game. He finished with 21 points and 15 rebounds, a normally commanding stat line that felt meaningless Friday night.
said Matt Painter, Purdue’s coach since 2005. “They played better than us,” he said. “They coached better than us.”
“They are wonderful,” said the painter.
It’s the third year in a row that Purdue has lost by double digits in the NCAA Tournament, a sign that Friday’s loss may not have been complete. But its loss to FDU amounts to the worst defeat for an organization that prioritizes local, unheralded recruits without the NBA hype of top-ranked players drawn to other college basketball powers. Purdue, which has focused on developing players for years, has largely rejected the transfer portal that other top programs have traded with to deepen their rosters.
That idea was a stubborn point of pride for Painter, who has reached the round of 16 six times but never advanced to the final four. His team “did things the right way” this season, he said Friday.
After being ranked the nation’s top team for a total of seven weeks this season, the second year in a row the program reached that top spot, Purdue’s players believed they were in position to win a national championship. Mason Gillis, a starting forward, said Thursday as much as his team is ready for FDU “We have the pieces,” he said confidently.