WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — It was ugly again, but Purdue got it done.
Ronnie Johnson scored 16 points to help the Boilermakers defeat Rider 81-77 on Sunday night. Among his highlights, the sophomore point guard had a critical steal and layup that put Purdue up 81-75 with 20.3 seconds to play.
Purdue coach Matt Painter still couldn't ignore the fact that Johnson made just 4 of 10 free throws.
"He has a big-time night if he knocks down his free throws," Painter said. "But he also made some big plays at key times, and that's what we need him to do."
Johnson, who made just 39 percent of his field goals last season, has made 17 of 28 this season.
"He's just picking his spots," Painter said. "I think we have more weapons this year, so he doesn't have to do quite as much."
Terone Johnson scored 14 points, Sterling Carter had 13 points and four steals and Bryson Scott added 11 points for the Boilermakers (3-0), who struggled in their opener before defeating Northern Kentucky 77-76 on Nov. 8.
Anthony Myles scored 19 points, Daniel Stewart scored 16, Jimmie Taylor had 13 and Zedric Sadler added 11 for the Broncs (0-2). Rider coach Kevin Baggett said his team played better than in its 92-78 season-opening loss to Lehigh.
"I thought these guys came ready mentally and physically prepared to play against this team," Baggett said. "We know they're a Big Ten team, we know they're pretty physical. I thought our guys came out with the right mindset, ready to compete from the start of the game."
Eventually, Purdue's depth overwhelmed the Broncs. Carter and Scott were key players on a bench that outscored Rider's 45-20.
"We're waiting our turn to go in, but at the same time, we're in tune to the game," Carter said. "We see what the group before us does and what they don't do. We just go out there and try and do our best and try to bring as much energy as possible."