Men’s Basketball: Northwestern’s winning streak crushed in loss to Purdue

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Daily file photo by Rachel Dubner

Bryant McIntosh handles the ball. The junior guard’s 22 points weren’t enough for No. 25 Northwestern against No. 23 Purdue.

Ben Pope, Reporter


Men’s Basketball


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — In only its second foray into the AP Top 25 in the last 48 years, No. 25 Northwestern received a harsh baptism at the hands of No. 23 Purdue on Wednesday.

The Wildcats’ (18-5, 7-3 Big Ten) six-game winning streak hit a brick wall named Caleb Swanigan and a hot-shooting Boilermakers (18-5, 7-3) offense in a decisive 80-59 loss.

Junior guard Bryant McIntosh led NU with 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting and senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin pulled down a team-high seven rebounds. The rest of their teammates weren’t nearly as effective, however, allowing Purdue to finish with a 41-30 advantage on the glass and a 12-2 differential in 3-point field goals.

“They’re so prolific offensively, a very tough team to guard with their inside-outside presence,” coach Chris Collins said. “The 3-point shooting was certainly the story of the game in the first half — they made some great shots; they really shared it well. They’re a very good team, and they got us tonight.”

The Cats kept with the hosts through the opening minutes but soon succumbed to an onslaught of 3-pointers that blew the game wide open. Purdue drained five shots from deep in just over three minutes to flip what was a one-point deficit into a 24-12 lead and electrify a crowd of 14,264.

That crowd never quieted. Freshman guard Isiah Brown — making his first career start in the absence of junior guard Scottie Lindsey — committed two first-half shot clock violations without even realizing it. He appeared unable to hear the buzzer through the noise.

By the time the Boilermakers sauntered into halftime with a 45-23 advantage, any NU upset hopes had drowned under a chorus of “Hail Purdue” and an inability to defend Purdue’s multilayered offense.

“We tried to keep our poise, (but) the crowd feeds off that, and there’s a reason why they’re good here,” Collins said. “I thought some of (Purdue’s 3-pointers) were open, and some of them it was just really good offense beating good defense, and that happens sometimes.”

The Cats were never able to shrink the lead below 14 during the second half, which proved a formality in determining the winner. Instead, Swanigan continued a complete effort for the Boilermakers en route to 24 points and 16 rebounds.

“He’s a hard guy to guard because he’s a load down there in the low post and now he’s stepping out and shooting 3s,” Collins said. “He’s an outstanding player and certainly played a great game tonight.”

Swanigan wasn’t the only force clicking for Purdue. Vince Edwards drained 5-of-7 triples for the hosts, and Dakota Mathias (13 points) made 2-of-3. McIntosh said the absence of Lindsey, who missed the trip with an illness, hurt NU’s ability to defend those outside shooters.

“Scott’s length was really able to cover up a lot of mistakes, and he guarded one of the other team’s better players,” McIntosh said. “That’s the one thing we’re really missing. Obviously Scott can put the ball in the basket, but his defense really gets overlooked.”

The Cats couldn’t match Purdue’s perimeter efficiency, failing to make their first 3-pointer of the game until the game’s final five minutes.

They were instead limited to a number of contested, long 2-pointers and saw little success. Sophomore forward Vic Law struggled the most, shooting four of his seven attempts — all of which he missed — from just inside the 3-point line.

Despite the defeat, NU remains third in the Big Ten standings — a spot it now shares with Purdue — and will enjoy six days of rest before the next game. McIntosh said he’s confident Wednesday’s letdown won’t turn into a larger slide.

“We had a tough first half, but I thought we played much better in the second half. We’re not in panic mode at all,” he said. “We’ve got to figure out ways that we can incorporate Isiah a little bit better and figure out defensively and offensively how we want to attack a little bit differently, but our schemes will stay the same.”

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