Cats Do Too Little, Too Late (Men’s Basketball)

Andrew Simon

By Andrew SimonThe Daily Northwestern

When freshman Kevin Coble buried a 3-pointer to cut Purdue’s lead to three with 14:30 remaining, it capped a 12-4 Northwestern run. The Wildcats appeared on their way to a comeback win.

But just seconds later, Purdue guard Chris Lutz hit a 3 of his own, jumpstarting a 22-6 run that propelled the Boilermakers to a 75-68 win Saturday in Evanston.

NU made a valiant attempt to recover in the final five minutes, but it wasn’t enough, as the Cats (13-15, 2-12) lost to Purdue (18-10, 7-7) for the first time since 2003.

“That seems to be our Achilles heel almost, that we can’t finish games out, that we can’t get over that hump,” said Coble, whose 24 points fell one shy of his career high. “We do a great job of fighting back, but it’s just that one little point that we don’t quite have yet.”

The Boilermakers took control of the game toward the end of the first half and led by 10 at the break. Coming out of the intermission, forward Carl Landry notched a layup and a dunk to push Purdue’s lead to 42-30.

But Landry, Purdue’s leading scorer, was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim after the dunk. The foul was his third of the game, forcing him to the bench.

The incident sparked the Cats, who took advantage of Landry’s absence with the 12-4 burst.

“There was a little urgency in the offense,” coach Bill Carmody said. “We just said to get (Tim Doyle) the ball and set a high screen for him and see if we can find some guys or keep it if they don’t switch … it got us back on track.”

Just two minutes later, Purdue’s lead was back to double digits. The Boilermakers poured in 22 points in a seven-minute span to seemingly put the game away, propelled by Lutz’s three treys.

Despite trailing by 19 with fewer than seven minutes to play, the Cats didn’t quit and climbed to within five with slightly more than a minute left. But Coble missed a 3 that could have made it a one-possession game, and the Boilermakers iced their victory at the free throw line.

Doyle, who led the Cats with a career-best 26 points, burned Purdue for 12 in the final six minutes.

“A lot of my points were meaningless,” Doyle said. “They had the game pretty well in hand. It was nice to make a run, but I take pride in scoring early and scoring when it counts.”

Doyle and Coble combined for 74 percent of NU’s points on 17-of-30 shooting. The rest of the Cats shot 5 for 17.

Although foul trouble limited Landry to 13 points in 20 minutes, the Boilermakers hurt the Cats from outside. Lutz and fellow guard David Teague combined to shoot 8 of 17 from 3-point range.

Teague made all four of his treys in the first half, when he scorched NU for 18 points. Although he scored eight more in the second half, it was Lutz who took control. The sophomore notched all of his 15 points after the break.

“The decisive factor was Teague and Lutz got off,” Doyle said. “Our zone is susceptible to 3-point shooting. They’re good 3-point shooters, they made their shots and that was the story of the game.”

Reach Andrew Simon at [email protected]