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Boilers throw block party

Center Hammons’ defense ignites home win

– Ball State’s Marcus Posley drove the lane, looking to give the Cardinals the lead with less than eight minutes remaining Tuesday against Purdue.

But Boilermakers center A.J. Hammons was there to clog up the middle. The 7-foot center didn’t even leave his feet as he blocked Posley’s shot. The block led to a fast-break opportunity for Purdue, and Terone Johnson made a layup while getting fouled.

The Boilermakers didn’t look back on the way to a 66-56 victory in front of 8,008 fans at Mackey Arena.

“The last four minutes we came together and made sure we didn’t turn over the ball, stayed in front of (Ball State guard) Jesse (Berry) and stopped their post touches,” Hammons said.

Hammons was a factor on both ends. He had 15 points, five rebounds and three blocks.

“He did a good job a handful of times tonight of just being big (defensively),” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.

Junior guard Terone Johnson added 14 points and four assists as the Boilermakers (5-5) snapped a two-game losing streak.

The Cardinals’ (5-6) three-game winning streak also came to an end. Berry led Ball State with 22 points.

“I thought our guys played with great effort,” Ball State coach Billy Taylor said. “We were very competitive. But our mistakes offensively – turning the basketball over, poor shot selection and some ill-timed shots – just came back to bite us toward the end of the game.”

Ball State took a 47-45 lead with 8:33 to go when Majok Majok made two free throws.

The Boilermakers tied the game when Hammons scored on a short jumper. The block by Hammons, which led to the conventional three-point play by Johnson, followed to give Purdue a 50-47 lead.

The baskets started a 13-2 run, with Johnson scoring five points. Hammons had four. Johnson made a layup with 3:51 to go to give the Boilermakers a 58-49 lead.

D.J. Byrd and Ronnie Johnson both finished with 11 points. Jacob Lawson added six points and 11 rebounds.

Purdue had struggled in late-game situations in all five of its losses. Tuesday, it found a way to close out the game.

“We got the ball inside so that really opened up everybody else in the perimeter,” Byrd said. “We got the ball to the big guy (Hammons) and having him score strong helps our team for him and for other players.”

Note: Purdue freshman forward Jay Simpson will miss the remainder of the season with a foot injury. He will be eligible to seek a medical hardship waiver. Simpson averaged 2.6 points and 2.3 rebounds in 7.6 minutes.

“He’s had soreness in his foot the whole time and he’s played through it,” Painter said. “He’s lost weight and gotten better, but it still wasn’t at a point where he wanted it to be. … He has the chance to be a great player for us.”

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