Women’s basketball: First-half run pushes Purdue past NU

Steven Montero

Northwestern lost control in the last few minutes of the first half Thursday, allowing No. 13 Purdue to gain a 10-point lead at the half, which would carry the Boilermakers to an 80-70 victory.

Coach Joe McKeown said the Wildcats kept pace with their opponents, taking the lead at times and allowing only three- to four-point margins. He said a minute and a half before heading to the locker room NU slipped into trouble.

The Cats missed two jumpers, turned over the ball once and fouled twice with less than two minutes before halftime.

“The way we closed it out took away some of the momentum that we had,” McKeown said. “We battled back in the second half, but you’re playing down double digits to a team that they play three guards. It’s hard to turn them over.”

Purdue’s top scorer, guard Brittany Rayburn, who averages 14.8 points per game, went cold Thursday. Rayburn went 0-for-12 from the floor and her only four points in the night came off of free throws.

Stepping up to fill the void in a huge way were guards Courtney Moses and KK Houser. The duo combined for 50 of the Boilermakers’ points.

Purdue coach Sharon Versyp said Thursday’s performance showed the flexibility of her team and how at any point any one of her players can step up.

“Any given night, anybody’s going to have a hot hand,” Moses said. “Our team does a really good job of, whoever’s having that hot hand, we make sure that we set them up and give them the ball and just let them do their thing.”

Moses went 14-for-14 from the line and made the most threes of the game – three of them – including a buzzer-beater before the half.

McKeown said NU gave Moses open looks by leaving her open early in the game.

Junior forward Dannielle Diamant did manage to pull the Cats back in the second half, earning a double-double with 21 points and 10 rebounds. NU closed the gap to 68-62 with one minute and 47 seconds left in the second after one of Diamant’s six free-throw points.

Purdue would not hold back and a sequence of NU fouls and missed shots by the Cats sealed the deal.

McKeown said the second half offered NU more opportunities, better ball movement and a better shot selection. He said he was also proud that the Cats stopped Rayburn in her tracks, highlighting that she is one of the best players in the country and that NU completed this goal.

The Cats also reduced their turnovers between the halves, improving from 14 to eight. However, the Boilermakers scored 24 points off of those 22 mistakes.

“It was a hard fought game,” McKeown said. “We had a chance to get it down to four there in the last minute but Purdue just made a couple more plays than us. I thought it was a terrific game. I was proud of our effort.”

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