TAIPEI – Lithuania dominated the offensive glass in the second half and limited Purdue’s outside shooters to hand the USA an 85-74 setback in the World University Games gold-medal game in front of a jam-packed Taipei Arena crowd on Tuesday.
The loss ends Purdue’s journey in the World University Games with a 7-1 record and a silver medal. The Boilermakers defeated Serbia (4th), Israel (6th), Argentina (8th) and Canada (10th) in a pair of exhibition games during their 11-game schedule in advance of, and during the World University Games.
“They were just quicker to the ball than us in the second half. We gave up way too many second-chances and we didn’t shoot the ball great,” head coach Matt Painter said. “You can still win games when you don’t shoot the ball well, but we didn’t do the things we needed to do to win a game like that. You have to tip your hat to Lithuania. They just played really hard.”
“Lithuania played really hard and they just really made us pay for our mistakes,” senior forward Vincent Edwards said. “We got them to take tough shots, but we just couldn’t finish the job and that’s disappointing. It’s really just a sickening feeling right now.”
Purdue trailed for most of the first quarter against Lithuania, one of the top international teams in the world, but would take a 36-29 lead late in the second quarter on a Dakota Mathias 3-pointer. However, Lithuania outscored Purdue 7-2 down the stretch to trail just 38-36 heading into the locker room.
“I thought we should have been in a better position at halftime. We were up two and I thought we should have been up six or eight points. That’s a big difference in a game like this,” Painter said.
Lithuania would take the lead for good early in the third quarter and Purdue would get no closer than three points during the final 15 minutes of the game. Trailing 76-69 with just over two minutes left, Lithuania scored back-to-back baskets off offensive rebounds following Purdue turnovers, essentially salting the game away.
Purdue shot just 30-of-65 (.462) from the field and 5-of-19 (.263) from long distance. The American squad entered the game shooting almost 45 percent from deep, but Lithuania was intent on pressuring Purdue’s shooters off the line, forcing contested jumpers in the lane.
Lithuania outrebounded the USA 44-32, and turned 17 offensive rebounds into 20 second-chance points. Purdue had just nine second-chance points, accounting for the difference in the final margin.
Carsen Edwards led the Boilermakers with 23 points, averaging 25.0 points per game during the medal round. Vincent Edwards added 16 points and finished the tournament by averaging 19.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game. Vincent Edwards ranked third among the field in scoring and fifth in field goal percentage.
Isaac Haas added 17 points on 6-of-7 shooting to go along with six rebounds.
Despite the loss, Purdue can take invaluable experience into the 2017-18 season, playing 11 games against high-quality international competition, while securing America’s second-best finish in the World University Games since 2005.
“It was such a blessing to have this opportunity to represent our country,” Carsen Edwards said. “We came in with a goal to win the gold medal. We fell short, but we can take a lot from this experience. It will only help us as we get ready for the season.”
The Boilermakers will return to West Lafayette to prepare for the 2017-18 season. The first official practice is a month from today.