Top NewsMarch Madness: Purdue beats Gonzaga on 3-run streak, high...

March Madness: Purdue beats Gonzaga on 3-run streak, high sack Eddy to advance to Elite Eight

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Purdue's offense is more than Zach Eddy. It was a lesson Gonzaga learned the hard way Friday as the Boilermakers beat the Bulldogs 80-68 in the Sweet 16.

Gonzaga focused its defense on Eddy early, repeatedly double-teaming him in the post and pick-and-rolls. Purdue's lethal halfcourt offense responded with a 7-of-13 effort from 3-point range in the first half.

When Gonzaga responded in the second half with Edey showing single coverage, he outran his smaller defenders and scored. A deadly inside-out combination has Purdue on the short list of remaining contenders for a national title.

Gonzaga kept steaming … for a while

For most of the game, Gonzaga kept pace with its own blazing offense. The Bulldogs shot 51.7% from the field in the first half and led Purdue 40-36 at halftime. When Purdue pulled away early in the second, Gonzaga went on a 9-2 run to pull within two points.

But Purdue eventually wore down Gonzaga. Senior Gonzaga forward Anton Watson went to the bench with his fourth foul with 12:33 left and Purdue leading, 53-51. Purdue responded with a 14-2 run to extend the lead to 67-53. Game over.

Zach Eddy feasted and got plenty of help from a deadly Purdue halfcourt offense.  (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Zach Eddy feasted and got plenty of help from a deadly Purdue halfcourt offense. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

Graham Ike, another Gonzaga big man, made a layup that Edey couldn't save with 5:07 left and Puldue leading 72-59, extending the Bulldogs' woes.

When it was over, Eddie had 27 points and 14 rebounds while shooting 10-of-15 from the field. As a team, Purdue shot 57.1% from the field and 45% (9 of 20) from 3-point range. Three Purdue starters scored in double figures along with Eddy. Gonzaga shot 49.2% from the field and 31.6% (6 of 19) from 3, which wasn't nearly good enough.

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Purdue has done this all season

This is nothing new for Purdue. A two-time consensus National Athlete of the Year, Edey Singh, a 7-foot-4 athlete with no physical competition in college basketball, is getting the lion's share of attention. But she's been surrounded by elite shooters all season, a stark difference between this year's team and last year's team that lost to No. 16 seed Fairleigh Dickinson in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

Purdue entered Friday as the nation's No. 1 3-point shooting team with a remarkable 40.9% success rate from distance. Last year the team shot 32.2% from 3 and ranked 291st in the nation.

The difference makes Purdue nearly unstoppable when its shots fall — which they often do. That's exactly the Purdue team Gonzaga ran into Friday night.

Braden Smith was Eddie's co-captain against the Bulldogs. The sophomore guard nearly recorded a triple-double with 14 rebounds, 15 assists and eight rebounds. He shot 6 of 11 from the field and 2 of 4 from 3-point range. Lance Jones added 12 points while shooting 5 of 10 from the field. Smith, Jones, Fletcher Lower and backup guard Mason Gillis each hit two 3-pointers to provide the Bulldogs with a steady stream of poison.

The Boilermakers are now one win away from the Final Four, which was far from their grasp last season. They will face Tennessee on Sunday for the right to advance to next weekend.

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