November 30, 2019 / 5:54 AM / 12 days ago

Purdue knocks off No. 20 VCU to move to tourney title game

EditorsNote: minor edits throughout

Purdue made five of six free throws late to win a semifinal game in the Emerald Coast Classic, advancing to Saturday’s championship game with a 59-56 victory over No. 20 Virginia Commonwealth on Friday night in Niceville, Fla.

Although big men Trevion Williams and Matt Haarms fouled out, the Boilermakers sank five from the line in the last 97 seconds while VCU’s Marcus Santos-Silva went 1-for-4 from the line in the final 1:16.

VCU’s De’Riante Jenkins missed a long 3-pointer to tie it in the final seconds.

Jahaad Proctor (8 for 10 free throws) and Eric Hunter Jr. each scored 12 points to lead Purdue (4-2), and Williams contributed 10.

The Boilermakers will play Florida State in the tournament’s championship game at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday.

Santos-Silva tallied a game-high 19 points but was 3-for-8 at the foul line. Jenkins and Mike’L Simms had nine points each for VCU, which committed a season-high 21 turnovers.

The Rams (6-1) will face No. 17 Tennessee in the third-place contest Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

VCU hounded Purdue early in a helter-skelter but unproductive start on the scoreboard, forcing the Boilermakers into bad shots with a harassing defense that seemingly dared the Boilermakers to attack the rim.

However, the Rams were almost equally inept with the ball, and the first nine minutes of the semifinal produced very little offense and just three total field goals. VCU held a 5-3 lead with nine minutes gone in the first half.

After missing their first seven 3-pointers, the Boilermakers saw Sasha Stefanovic and Isaiah Thompson nail consecutive treys to ignite an 8-0 run for a 25-18 lead.

But a seven-point run by VCU, punctuated by a 3-pointer by Marcus Evans, tied it 25-25 with 1:49 left in the half.

Purdue, which hit its final three attempts from behind the arc, led 32-26 after Proctor’s two free throws with one second left.

The teams combined for 24 turnovers — 14 by VCU, 10 by Purdue — in the opening 20 minutes.

A Rams 9-2 run put VCU ahead 35-34 three minutes into the second half, but Santos-Silva, who had 12 points without a miss from the field or the foul stripe to that point, headed to the bench with three fouls at the 16-minute mark.

Two free throws by Issac Vann with 8:21 left gave VCU a 45-44 lead with 8:21 left in the game, and both teams played in the double bonus in the last seven minutes.

—Field Level Media

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