HAMMOND | Purdue Calumet coach Dan Voudrie knows his team needs to defend the 3-point line better, something never more evident than Saturday afternoon's game against visiting St. Francis.
St. Francis torched Purdue Cal for 13-of-23 shooting from the arc, but the Peregrines knocked down 19 free throws to hold on for a 76-73 win in their Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference men's opener.
Purdue Calumet improved to 7-1, its best start in school history.
"We've struggled to guard that arc well," Purdue Calumet coach Dan Voudrie said. "They did a good job executing."
Perhaps the biggest key in the narrow win was Purdue Calumet's 42-32 rebounding advantage over St. Francis. That margin included 17 offensive rebounds.
Voudrie noticed a little Thanksgiving break offensive rust.
"Our offense wasn't really clicking smooth," he said. "Our big guys did a great job going at the offensive glass."
The Peregrines shot 37.9 percent from the field in the first half, but fired back with a 16-for-31 clip after the break. A big part of that was the play of starting forward Dioscar Gomez and reserve guard Duron Ivery, who both scored 11 points in the second half.
"Just taking it to the rim, really," Gomez said of his offensive mindset in the second half. "They weren't very aggressive on the defensive side."
Noah Allen paced the Peregrines with 20 points, including 6-for-8 shooting from the field and 8-for-11 from the free-throw line.
Allen said it was difficult to defend a team with the shooting prowess of St. Francis.
"They do all kinds of picks, and re-picks," he said. "They're always trying to get their shooters open. It's frustrating, because you try to get around those picks all you can, and it doesn't happen all the time."
The biggest lead by either team was eight points. A wire-to-wire game is something the Peregrines haven't been used to this season, as the closest game they've played was a 68-55 win over Marygrove on Nov. 8.
"We needed to be in a situation like this," Voudrie said. "Go figure, the conference opener you're going to get that. We took care of home court, and now we're in a good position to go on the road Tuesday night (at Olivet Nazarene) and get another conference win."