Wildcats Boiled Over (Women’s Basketball)

Matt Baker

By Matt BakerThe Daily Northwestern

Down 3-0 a minute into the game, Northwestern senior A.J. Glasauer nailed a 3-pointer in the left corner to tie the game and give the Wildcats one of their best plays of the night.

Glasauer’s trey was the closest the Cats came to the lead and the only field goal for their leading scorer.

The Big Ten-leading Boilermakers shut down the Cats’ offense, netting 20 steals and five blocked shots, as No. 12 Purdue gave NU its 12th straight loss, 73-41, Thursday night at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

“Player for player, yeah, Purdue is probably a little bit better than we are, but we made them a lot better,” coach Beth Combs said. “They’re one of best teams in country for a reason, and they’ve got as many weapons as you can have. But we didn’t allow ourselves to be put in a position to compete today, and that’s disappointing. They had an obvious heart advantage over us today.”

Purdue (17-3, 6-0 Big Ten) took a quick lead off of a 3-pointer by guard Jodi Howell 13 seconds into the game. After Glasauer’s tying jumper, Boilermaker FahKara Malone made two straight 3’s to give Purdue a 9-3 lead with 17:25 left in the first half.

After McInerney’s move in the post put NU (6-13, 0-6) down 15-10 with 13:25 left, both teams went cold.

It would be four and a half minutes until Purdue’s Erin Lawless made a pair of free-throws with nine minutes left in the half to end the drought. A 3-pointer by freshman Beth Marshall a minute later ended NU’s 5:33 scoreless drought and put the Cats down 17-13.

Purdue scored six straight points, but Marshall answered with back-to-back 3’s to bring the Cats back within seven. Marshall and sophomore Kristin Cartwright led NU with nine points each off of the bench.

But three NU turnovers in the last three minutes of the half would give the Boilermakers a 34-22 lead at the break.

Purdue forced 11 turnovers in the first half. The Cats finished the game with as many turnovers – 28 – as rebounds.

“I thought we did well in the first half, and the second half we just let it slip,” Marshall said. “I guess for a top-ranked team, we did pretty well for the first half. We just lost confidence, and we can’t do that.”

NU opened the second half with four turnovers in two minutes. Purdue capitalized, extending its lead to 16 points on a 3-pointer by Howell. The Cats would never get closer.

Despite the lopsided loss, NU had at least one positive aspect of the game. The Cats held Gearlds, the Big Ten’s second leading scorer, to just 10 points on 4-of-10 shooting, her third-lowest output on the season. She had averaged 17.8 points per game before Thursday.

“She was one of our main focuses in practice on defense,”Cartwright said. “I think…we were able to do a good job in shutting her down.”

The Boilermakers owned the undersized Cats on the boards, out-rebounding NU 40-28. Sophomore Danielle Campbell added four of Purdue’s five blocked shots; the Cats had none.

Combs said the Cats must increase their intensity if they hope to end their 12-game losing skid against Wisconsin (13-5, 2-3) at noon on Sunday at Welsh-Ryan Arena. The Cats fell to the Badgers 93-72 in their Dec. 28 game in Madison.

“Our attitude has to change,” Combs said. “I think we have to go out to begin the ball game fast and intense with a lot of pride. We will be ready on Sunday, and we will be a different team. We’ll bounce back.”

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