Men’s Basketball: Northwestern continues end-of-season slump, falls to Purdue for fifth straight loss


Daily file photo by Meghan White

Redshirt freshman Tre Demps drives to the hoop. Demps led Northwestern in scoring with 9 points in the team’s loss to Purdue.

Ava Wallace, Assistant Sports Editor

Northwestern made a total of 8 field goals in their first half against Purdue, and the rest of the game remained just as futile for the Wildcats.

In their third straight contest ending with points in the low-40s, the Cats (13-15, 4-11 Big Ten) traveled to West Lafayette, Ind. to battle the Boilermakers (13-14, 6-8) on Sunday night with whoever was still healthy. Nothing seemed to go right for NU.

The game ended in a 31-point loss for the visiting team, 74-43.

Purdue had one of its strongest offensive showings this season in the second Cats-Boilermakers matchup of conference play.

NU took the first contest between the two teams earlier this season 75-60, but that time, it was playing against a Purdue squad Boilermakers’ coach Matt Painter called “undisciplined.”

Sunday night was a different story, as Purdue shot 52.9 percent from the field and 46.7 percent on 3-pointers. The Boilermakers also had four players with points in double-digits; guard Terone Johnson led his team with 22 points, including 12 from his four 3-pointers.

Purdue was also able to achieve exactly what NU coach Bill Carmody said he wanted his team to prevent: shooting in the paint.

The Boilermakers made 36 of their 74 points in close proximity to the basket, although Carmody wanted his team to force Purdue to take more shots from the perimeter. The Boilermakers’ offensive edge was also in part due to the Cats’ debilitated defensive effort. At one point, Purdue forward Travis Carroll had 2 shots and an offensive rebound in a single possession, without a serious challenge from NU.

Moving slowly, the Cats could not keep up with the Boilermakers’ offensive movement and despite executing their 1-3-1 defensive zone, were not able to effectively guard Purdue’s jumpers. Senior guard Reggie Hearn, who led his team with 6 rebounds, said his team faltered on executing defensive nuts-and-bolts well, as they did throughout the beginning of the season.

Freshman guard Tre Demps said the game outcome generally follows how the team’s defense performs, so it was difficult for NU to fight back after a slow start.

“They came out and set the tone a little bit… and we couldn’t stop them defensively to start out,” Demps said. “Whenever we get a good start defensively we have a pretty good chance of winning the game.”

NU also had 11 turnovers, off of which Purdue scored 10 points.

Offensively, the Cats’ young lineup seemed unsure on the court and hesitant in making decisions. They had only 4 points off of fast breaks and 8 points off of 15 Boilermaker turnovers. No one on the NU squad scored in double digits, Demps led the team with 9 points.

For the Cats, Demps said the Boilermakers’ defense was particularly hurtful on the all-important back-door cuts and off-ball movement, two crucial aspects to NU’s slower-paced offense. Demps also mentioned off-ball movement as a particular aspect of the game the young team is still working on in practice.

“They were … hitting us through our cuts and those things make a difference because that is the difference between getting an open shot and not getting an open shot,” Demps said.

The Cats threw up shot after missed shot, especially in the game’s second half.  After talking about offensive woes – NU shot 28.6 percent from the field – an exhausted-sounding Hearn mentioned how much NU is missing graduate student forward Jared Swopshire, out with an injured knee, and repeated what his team has adopted as a creed for this season.

“I think as a team there’s not much more to be said than just keep fighting,” Hearn said. “You just have to fight, show some more heart.”