Women’s Basketball: Northwestern rallies from early deficit to top Purdue in overtime


Source: The Purdue Exponent

Nia Coffey moves into position. The sophomore forward did not miss from the free throw line on Wednesday night and settled into a key 17-point, 11-rebound performance in a Wildcats win.

Khadrice Rollins, Reporter

Women’s Basketball

It did not look good early for Northwestern, but the team was able to power through a bad start to come away with another hard-fought victory.

The Wildcats (18-6, 8-5 Big Ten) pushed their winning streak to four games as they escaped from West Lafayette, Indiana, with a 73-65 overtime win over Purdue (10-14, 3-10).

In the opening frame, it seemed like NU was ready to throw away another game against a Big Ten bottom dweller as it fell behind 28-14 with less than six minutes left in the first half.

“We couldn’t make a shot the first 10, 12 minutes of the game,” coach Joe McKeown said.

The Cats were shooting just 5-of-20 when they went down by 14 points, and the team struggled the whole night from the field, shooting just 36.2 percent for the game. But they were able to fight past it. NU would tighten the gap and only trailed 36-29 at the half.

“We weren’t really playing our game,” sophomore forward Nia Coffey said. “So we decided to start playing together and start running our sets and start getting stops and start rebounding.”

The Cats came out of the break playing like the team with the second best scoring margin in the Big Ten, and opened up the second half on an 11-4 run to tie the game at 40.

NU and Purdue battled for the rest of regulation, with neither team pulling away from the other. The Cats had the ball late with a chance to take the lead, but a turnaround jump shot from junior forward Lauren Douglas could not find the bottom of the net. With six seconds left, Purdue looked to take the lead, but an offensive foul was called on Boilermakers’ senior forward Whitney Bays as she attempted to set a screen on sophomore guard Ashley Deary. Deary would then miss a shot as time expired, and the game would head to overtime.

In the extra period, the Cats would show their grit and prove to be the better team. Coffey would put them ahead at the free throw line early in the period, and they would not look back. The Cats went 6-of-6 from the free throw line in overtime, part of a stellar 17-of-18 performance from the charity stripe for the contest. Junior guard Maggie Lyon hit a 3-pointer to extend NU’s lead to 6 with a little over two minutes left, and then Douglas added 4 more points in the final one minute and 15 seconds to cap off the win.

With the victory, the Cats are tied with Minnesota for fifth in the conference and sit just one game out of third in the standings. And by winning in Purdue for the first time since 1996, NU is now 4-3 against Big Ten opponents on the road.

“It just really showed our heart, and how we can play together and where we can go when we do that,” Coffey said.

Deary led the Cats with 18 points and had a game-high six assists. Coffey picked up her eighth double-double in Big Ten play as she posted 17 points to go along with 11 rebounds. Lyon and Douglas chipped in with 14 and 13 points respectively.

After a rough patch, NU has found its way back to the NCAA tournament path. But McKeown doesn’t see his team as glamorous, but a scrappy outfit that claws to the win.

“We’re a blue collar team,” he said. “We have to grind things out. Sometimes when we can get up and down, we look like a highlight film, but really for us to be successful, we have to grind.”

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