WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - Bryan Hopkins had been hounded all day by Purdue’s physical defense.
He scored just two points through the first 39 minutes of Sunday’s game, but it didn’t matter.
Hopkins scored on a driving layup with 24 seconds left to lift Southern Methodist to a 60-59 upset of No. 17 Purdue in the championship game of the Boilermaker Invitational.
“To win like this is tremendous for our guys,” SMU coach Mike Dement said. “It’s rare to win one of these.”
Purdue’s Kenneth Lowe had two chances to win the game, but Justin Isham rebounded his miss on the following possession and then Lowe missed a coast-to-coast drive as time ran out.
“I tried my best to get to the basket, but I got cut off so I just tried to pull up and make the shot,” Lowe said.
The Boilermakers (8-2) lost their tournament’s championship game for just the second time in the event’s 13-year history. The last time they lost was Dec. 7, 1991, to Wisconsin-Green Bay.
“We did a poor job executing, we did a poor job competing,” Purdue coach Gene Keady said.
Hopkins’ shot capped a frustrating day for the sophomore, who scored 35 points in the Mustangs’ first-round win over Miami of Ohio.
“I was coming off a 35-point game, so I knew they were going to be looking for me to score,” said Hopkins, who finished with four points on 2-for-8 shooting. “Shots weren’t falling for me early, so I just tried to get my teammates involved.”
While he didn’t score like he did against Miami, Hopkins still made an impact, especially late as he penetrated the Purdue defense and found teammates for open layups.
Kris Lowe led SMU with 16 points and eight rebounds and Patrick Simpson added 13 points.
The Mustangs (5-3) frustrated Purdue for much of the game by collapsing its defense into the lane and daring the Boilermakers to shoot from the outside.
“We have a lot of faith in our zone,” Hopkins said, with a smile. “We just wanted to make them shoot outside shots.”
The plan worked, and Purdue shot just 36 percent from the field. But Lowe hit two 3-pointers and David Teague added another to give Purdue a 54-48 lead with 4:39 to play and start a wild final five minutes of play.
The Mustangs responded with strong play inside, converting layups on four straight possessions to take a 58-57 lead with one minute left.
“Our guys just made some plays,” Dement said.
Booker put back a miss by Brandon McKnight with 37 seconds left for a 59-58 lead, but Hopkins responded on the next possession with his driving layup.
“They just kept playing and eventually found some cracks in our defense,” Kenneth Lowe said.
The Boilermakers advanced to the championship game with dominant play inside from forwards Matt Kiefer and Chris Booker in a win over Indiana-Purdue-Fort Wayne on Saturday.
SMU obviously took note, playing a 2-3 zone for most of the game that took the ball out of the forwards’ hands and put the onus on Purdue’s shooters.
“Our zone made it difficult for them to get it inside,” Dement said. “They missed just enough outside shots.”
Kenneth Lowe, who was selected tournament MVP, scored 14 of his 19 points in the second half for Purdue, while Teague added 11.
The Boilermakers dominated on the offensive glass in the first half, where they outrebounded SMU 12-2. The rebounding advantage helped Purdue overcome 33 percent shooting to lead 30-24 at halftime.
The Mustangs didn’t back down, starting the second half with a 9-0 run to take a 33-30 lead.
The loss devastated Keady, who said this will be a turning point in Purdue’s season.
“This team, right now, can go either way,” he said. “We can either be a real bad team in March or a real fun team. It’s going to be a nice test to see how we respond.”
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