Men’s Basketball: Turnovers the difference-maker in Northwestern’s loss to Purdue

Dan Ryan

Looking at the stat sheet from Northwestern’s 58-56 loss to Purdue on Saturday quickly yields the culprit in the Wildcats’ inability to close out the Boilermakers: turnovers.

NU outrebounded Purdue by 14, got to the foul line six more times, and shot 8.1 percent better from beyond the arc than their Big Ten foes. The stat of the night, however, was the Cats’ 16 turnovers and the 21 points the Boilermakers scored off of them.

“Another tough loss for us,” coach Bill Carmody said. “The whole thing, stat sheet and all, comes down to turnovers as far as I’m concerned. We had 16 turnovers, and they had five turnovers. In a two-point game, 16 times when you didn’t get a shot when you had possession, that’s just not acceptable.”

NU did a good job of keeping Purdue at arms length midway through the first half, but two turnovers by senior forward Davide Curletti and junior guard Alex Marcotullio, combined with missed opportunities for the Cats on offense allowed the Boilermakers to take a seven-point lead in less than two minutes.

On one of the rare moments in which Purdue gave the ball to NU, Curletti and junior guard Reggie Hearn got tangled up fighting for the ball, allowing the Boilermakers to regain possession and score.

“It seemed like a number of (the turnovers) were at important times,” Carmody said. “I think we had 10 in the first half, six in the second half, but a couple of them were just stealing the basketball from our own guys. Reggie made a great play at the top and stole the ball, and then Davide stole it back from him.”

Making matters worse, Purdue capitalized on nearly every NU mistake, building a cushion against the Cats’ late-game run.

According to Hearn, the ball security issues stemmed from NU’s sloppy play on offense.

“Our offense is made for pressure-type teams,” Hearn said. “The back-door cuts keep them honest. I actually didn’t know we had that many turnovers. Speaking for myself personally, I probably had like three or four, trying to be aggressive on them and forcing things when it wasn’t there. It’s more just us being sloppy.”

Even Purdue coach Matt Painter acknowledged how fortunate the Boilermakers were to capitalize on so many NU mistakes.

“That’s where we were able to steal some possessions,” Painter said. “Our ability to turn them over a little bit and then our ability to not turn the basketball over.”

The Cats are now 2-7 in their last nine games and are limping into the halfway point of the conference season on a three-game losing streak. After upsetting Michigan State, NU has been outscored by its past three opponents, 210-165.

“It hurts to lose, it definitely hurts to lose,” junior forward Drew Crawford said. “We’ve been in this position it seems for a few weeks now.”

An obviously frustrated Carmody was out of explanations for the team’s three-game losing streak.

“Sometimes you get them,” Carmody said. “Sometimes you don’t get them.”

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