By JON KRAWCZYNSKI
Associated Press Writer
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Pierre Pierce made two free throws with 30.6 seconds left to propel Iowa to a much-needed win over Purdue, 63-62, on Saturday.
Pierce, who missed the second half of Wednesday’s loss at Northwestern with a scratched left eye, provided a big offensive spark down the stretch for Iowa (16-11, 9-7 Big Ten).
The Boilermakers (17-12, 7-9) had two chances to stay in the game in the closing seconds, but David Teague missed a 3-pointer and Pierce grabbed the rebound.
Jeff Horner added two free throws for Iowa and Teague botched a free throw attempt on the other end. Teague was at the line with 1.1 seconds left and Purdue down 63-60. He was supposed to make the first free throw and miss the second, but he made both, eliminating any chance for a win and severely hurting Purdue’s chances at an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament.
Horner led the Hawkeyes with 22 points on 7-of-11 shooting and Greg Brunner added 14 points and 13 rebounds.
Iowa withstood two strong Purdue runs to open each half on senior day in West Lafayette to win for the fourth time in six games.
It was a critical win for the Hawkeyes, who earned a first-round bye in next week’s Big Ten tournament. The win, coupled with Michigan’s victory over Northwestern, gives Iowa the fourth seed.
The Boilermakers opened the game with a 9-2 run and had a 10-2 burst early in the second half.
But the Hawkeyes had an answer for every Purdue charge. After Kenneth Lowe’s 3-pointer gave Purdue a 44-38 lead with 16:33 to play, Iowa scored 10 straight points, all coming on layups or dunks, to take a 48-44 lead.
The easy baskets inside have become a disturbing trend for the Boilermakers, who have watched injuries and academic problems decimate their front line.Chris Booker has been out since December with academic problems, Matt Kiefer has missed three straight games with a stress fracture in his left foot and Matt Carroll has been limited by a partially separated shoulder.
That left Ije Nwankwo, Ivan Kartelo and Brett Buscher to handle all the inside work, and they weren’t up to the task. They combined for just 17 points, but it was on defense where the weakness was exposed.
Ten of Iowa’s 13 field goals in the second half came on dunks or layups, as the Hawkeyes got into the lane easily time and again.
When the Boilermakers took a 56-55 lead on two free throws by Lowe, Iowa came right back with a drive by Horner and a layup by Pierce to take back control.
Pierce finished with 12 points.
The loss means Purdue almost assuredly must win next week’s Big Ten tournament to get into the field.
Lowe, playing in his final Big Ten game at Mackey Arena, had 14 points and Teague added 14 for Purdue, which fell to 1-7 in games decided by two points or less.