- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - The Purdue Boilermakers are trying to find ways to win. Against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, they needed some extra time.

A.J. Hammons had 20 points and 14 rebounds to lead Purdue to a 77-74 triple overtime victory over Minnesota Wednesday night.

“We always talk about effort,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “When you struggle in other areas - shot selection, making your free throws, being efficient - you can always play hard. You can control your effort and you can control your attitude.”

Kendall Stephens had 14 points, including four 3-pointers, and Ronnie Johnson had 11 points for the Boilermakers (14-9, 4-6 Big Ten), who snapped a season-worst four-game skid.

Maurice Walker had 17 points and six rebounds and DeAndre Mathieu added 15 points for the Golden Gophers (15-8, 4-6), who have lost three straight.

Minnesota was called for a shot clock violation and Hammons scored a lay-up with 57 seconds left in the third overtime period to put the Boilermakers ahead 75-74.

Johnson made a free throw with 18 seconds left to make it 76-74. Then Errick Peck grabbed the rebound, was fouled and scored a free throw to give Purdue a 77-74 lead.

Things didn’t come easy for either team. Purdue and Minnesota hit just enough shots to keep playing, but neither could put the game away until the Boilermakers went to the line late in the third overtime period. 

Even Purdue’s time at the free throw line wasn’t all that efficient. The Boilers, who didn’t make any trips to the line in the first half, went 9 of 23 on the night.

The difference came down to rebounding.

The Big Ten’s best offensive rebounding team finished with 23 offensive boards and overall beat the Golden Gophers on the glass 50-40.

“Coach just kept telling us to crash the offensive glass,” Hammons said. “Coach said to just keep going after the offensive rebounds and go back up with it. I thought that was the difference”

Hammons grabbed seven of his 14 boards on the offensive end and Purdue scored 23 second-chance points.

They set the tone on the boards in the first half. The Boilermakers grabbed seven offensive rebounds by halftime. Minnesota had just two.

Hammons scored a pair of free throws with 31 seconds left in regulation to give the Boilermakers 60-58 advantage. Then with four seconds remaining and the opportunity to extend the lead, Terone Johnson missed two free throws.

Austin Hollins scored at the buzzer to tie the game at 60 to force overtime.

In the first overtime period, Mathieu scored a pair of free throws to tie the game at 64 to force a second overtime period.

Walker tied the game at 68 with under three minutes to play in the third overtime and neither team scored the rest of the period. 

In the third overtime period, Mathieu scored with 2:15 remaining to give the Golden Gophers a 74-73 lead.

Terone Johnson missed a shot, but grabbed his own rebound before he was fouled with 1:53 left. He missed both free throws and Minnesota took possession to the sound of boos from Purdue fans.

It didn’t last long.

Minnesota was called for a shot clock violation and Hammons scored a lay-up with 57 seconds left to put the Boilermakers ahead 75-74.

Minnesota’s Andre Hollins played for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in a win over Wisconsin on Jan. 22. The Golden Gophers lost the two games the team’s leading scorer missed. He finished with eight points.

Minnesota won the first game of the two-game series back on Jan. 5. The Golden Gophers had a chance to sweep the regular-season series for the first time since 2005. But more importantly, the Golden Gophers looked to get back to winning.

“We’re real close to being a good basketball team,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “We’re very close. I’m very proud of these guys and they should be proud too.”

Minnesota’s three-game skid is the longest losing streak of the season.

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