Men’s Basketball: Pardon elevates offensive game in battle with Purdue, Isaac Haas


Katie Pach/Daily Senior Staffer

Dererk Pardon rises for a jump shot in Northwestern's loss to Purdue. The junior center surprised the Boilermakers with a flurry of midrange field goals Sunday.

Ben Pope, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Not since his sensational Big Ten debut in 2015-16 has Dererk Pardon made as many field goals as he did in Northwestern’s narrow 74-69 loss at Purdue on Sunday.

He did it against 7-foot-2 Boilermaker giant Isaac Haas, holding his own in what initially seemed an unfair matchup in Haas’ favor, and he did it with a never-before-seen midrange shooting proficiency.

“I about had to stick my foot in my mouth,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “I said Dererk Pardon’s not going to beat us with 2s, and he about did.”

With his 9-of-12 shooting line from the field, including 7-of-9 in the second half, Pardon hit the 20-point milestone for only the second time in his career with the Wildcats (5-4, 1-1 Big Ten). The junior center also brought down eight rebounds, tallied a season-high four assists and didn’t record a turnover — the final number being perhaps the most notable, as Pardon has turned it over just twice in his last five outings after doing so 15 times in the first four games.

Usually an offensive threat only via layups and jump hooks, Pardon’s range expanded dramatically Sunday, as he cashed out with a number of long jumpers from the 18-foot range. The Ohio native said the emergence of his midrange game has been a long time coming.

“That’s something I’ve been working on since this offseason,” Pardon said. “This game plan was just good for us picking and popping — they do a lot of down screens, so I was able to go get the open shot. … After I made my first couple, they started to rotate towards me and that opened up the lane to drive.”

Coach Chris Collins said he encouraged Pardon to try the midrange shots because that’s what the Boilermakers’ (8-2, 2-0) physical interior defense is prone to allowing.

Painter said his team sought to get the ball out of NU senior guard Bryant McIntosh’s hands and make other players take shots from the exterior, and added that he’d do it again despite Pardon’s surprising efficiency.

On the other end of the court, Pardon allowed Haas to score a game-high 26 points and get to the free-throw line 14 times — eventually fouling Pardon out in the closing moments — but Collins said that was a byproduct of his squad’s defensive approach.

The Cats elected to let Pardon guard the big man one-on-one instead of leaving other shooters open by double-teaming, and Pardon said he “tried to do as much as” he could with the difficult defensive assignment.

Senior guard Scottie Lindsey, for one, was impressed with Pardon’s effort.

“Not only is Dererk guarding (Haas), but the other guys have to be in constant help, making sure they don’t throw it over the top,” Lindsey said. “It sometimes puts us in bad positions, but I thought Dererk won the battle and fought hard all night. He almost won the game for us.”

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