WESTVILLE, Ind. — The Purdue University Northwest men’s basketball team put together a valiant second-half effort, but it wasn’t enough in a 87-74 loss to visiting Trinity Christian College Wednesday night at the James B. Dworkin Center.
The Pride (13-15, 11-9 Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference) now find themselves in a four-way tie for first place in the CCAC South Division, as St. Francis (11-9) fell to Olivet Nazarene (11-9) Wednesday and Calumet St. Joseph (11-9) fell to Holy Cross. Saturday’s final regular-season game at Governors State will be pivotal as the Pride try to capture the top spot, which would mean an automatic bid to the NAIA Division II National Tournament.
PNW junior post Torrance Johnson (Chicago Heights, Ill./Chicago Hope Academy) led the Pride with 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting , sophomore Chandler Spring (Covington, Ind./Covington) added 16 points and Tyree Coe (Fishers, Ind./Fishers) had 15 points. Senior Mike Williams (Gary, Ind./Lew Wallace) chipped in 11 points, five boards and four assists to round out Pride players in double-figures.
Purdue Northwest trailed by 15, 39-24, after a rough first half saw the squad shoot just 30 percent (9-of-30) in the first 20 minutes. PNW would begin its second half run at the 13-minute mark, as TCC (12-16, 7-13) led by 50-36, on a Ben Brinks’ layup. Two Williams free-throws kickstarted what would be a 18-7 run over the next three-and-a-half minutes to cut the Trolls’ lead to just 3, 53-50.
Spring hit back-to-back triples during that span to aid the run.
But Trinity Christian would withstand the charge, as Jordan Perry would answer with two layups of his own to push the advantage back to seven, 57-50, with 9:16 left. Trinity would lead by as many as 14 (68-54) with 5:32 left before one final PNW run — with the help of a Caleb Brannon (Lebanon, Ind./Lebanon) triple and two Johnson buckets — that cut that deficit to just four, 70-66, with 2:55 left.
But the Trolls would end the game on a 17-8 run to seal the win.
PNW finished the game 39.4 percent (26-of-66) from the floor compared to 48.1 percent (25-of-52) for TCC, who drained 9-of-21 (42.9 percent) from downtown compared to 5-of-27 (18.5 percent) for the Pride. PNW forced the Trolls into a game-high 20 turnovers, scoring 23 points off those miscues, while the Pride committed just 12 giveaways.
TCC never trailed in the game after opening the contest on a 20-5 run.
Five players scored in double-figures for the Trolls, led by Perry’s 27 points and 12 rebounds.
PNW returns to action Saturday with a pivotal matchup in University Park, Ill., at Governors State. Tip-off is set for 3 p.m. CT.