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PHILADELPHIA — There was a but.
Purdue tipped its cap to Saint Peter’s and credited the 15th seed with its effort, intensity and determination.
But third-seeded Boilermakers star Trevion Williams did feel his team was at a disadvantage so far from home.
“Obviously being away — they’re not far from here, so they got a lot of calls their way,” Williams said after Saint Peter’s 67-64 victory at Wells Fargo Center. “But you’ve just got to be 10 points better.”
Williams did say the Peacocks, who will face North Carolina in the Elite Eight, earned his respect and outplayed Purdue.
“That’s a real team,” the bruising forward said.
Saint Peter’s, the lowest seed to reach the Elite Eight in NCAA Tournament history, did attempt more free throws, 21-15, although a good portion of that came in the final minutes when Purdue was initially putting the Peacocks on the line. Saint Peter’s only got 18 minutes out of senior star KC Ndefo, too, due to foul woes. And Purdue attempted 79 free throws in its first two tournament games, to 23 for opponents Yale and Texas.
Coach Matt Painter lamented Purdue putting the Peacocks on the line so much, but didn’t fault the officiating or any kind of a home whistle. He credited Saint Peter’s with outplaying his Big Ten school down the stretch. Over the final 4:02, Purdue was outscored 15-8. Eleven of the Peacocks’ points in that closing stretch came from the charity stripe.
“Our issue at the end if you want to grab something is to quit fouling people,” Painter said. “That’s the game. Like now can they go make plays like they did before? You go watch the end of the Kentucky game, they’re making play after play after play. Do they go and make those plays? Yeah, they sure could, they could make those plays. But don’t put good free-throw shooters [on the line].
“We foul them off the ball twice, we foul on a three-point play, we dive on a guy at the end. That’s the game, like right there.”