WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Fighting Leathernecks led nearly all of the first half, but Purdue proved to be too much, downing Western 81-67 in the opening round of the College Basketball Invitational Wednesday evening inside Mackey Arena.
The Leathernecks conclude their historic season with a 22-9 overall record, better than any other WIU team in the program's NCAA Division I history. Western falls to 0-5 all-time versus Purdue and 0-2 in CBI play.
Although Western was without its two All-Summit League First Team players, Ceola Clark III and Terell Parks, the Leathernecks battled, and led by as many as nine points midway through the first half. Purdue regained the lead near the end of the first, though, and held onto it for the remainder of the game.
Adam Link also dished out a team-high five assists and recorded 12 points while pulling down a team-best five rebounds.
Michael Ochereobia, like Link, also finished with 12 points in the loss. Both Link and Ochereobia finished 5-of-9 from the field.
Senior Jack Houpt knocked down a pair of treys for six points, had two assists and a steal.
A.J. Hammons led four Boilermakers in double figures with 15 points.
Purdue shot 58.5% from the field, while the Leathernecks made 50 percent of their shots.
Western led for nearly all of the first half, gaining its first lead of the game just over two minutes into the game and holding onto it until the five minute mark of the period.
A Houpt triple gave WIU its early 5-4 advantage. Purdue quickly tied the game at 7-7 five minutes in, but the Leathernecks recaptured their lead courtesy of an 18-9 run where they held their biggest lead of the game, nine points (25-16), midway through the half.
Purdue slowly chipped away at the lead, until the Boilermakers' Ronnie Johnson finished a layup making it 33-32 in favor of Purdue with five minutes remaining.
Purdue's advantage was a big as five in the first half, 37-32, but Western would cut its deficit to three points at the break, 37-34. Western knocked down 13-of-23 (56.5) shots in the first, while Purdue connected on 15-of-28 (53.6) field goal attempts.
The second half was all Purdue. The Boilermakers outscored Western 44-33 in the half, and held its largest lead of the game, 21 points (70-49), with just under seven minutes to play.
Purdue advances to face Santa Clara next Monday, March 25, at home in the second round of the CBI.