Rapid Recap: No. 5 Purdue 70, Northwestern 64


Alyce Brown/The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern players lock arms on the bench. The Wildcats were unable to capture any magic against No. 5 Purdue on Wednesday, falling 70-64.

Alex Cervantes, Reporter

With its hopes of postseason play in March dwindling, Wednesday’s matchup with No. 5 Purdue presented Northwestern with what was likely one final opportunity to topple a ranked opponent in regular season play.

The Wildcats (12-12, 5-10 Big Ten) were unable to capture any magic, though, falling 70-64. 

Senior forward Pete Nance got NU on the board first, nailing a contested two with the shot clock winding down. After a pair of possessions in which the Cats were able to stop 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey at the rim, the sophomore scored the Boilermakers’ first points off of a dime from Eric Hunter Jr. NU couldn’t buy a bucket early, but picked up four quick fouls by the under-16 timeout, as Purdue took a 4-2 lead.

A packed Welsh-Ryan Arena erupted following a flurry of layups from the Cats. Key reserves in sophomore guard Ty Berry and redshirt junior center Ryan Young provided NU with a lift offensively. The pair had nine of the Cats’ 13 points at the under-12 media timeout.

Nance’s second pull-up jumper just inside the right wing tied the game up at 15-15 midway through the half. Purdue, however, quickly countered with a 7-0 run to quiet the NU faithful. Robbie Beran’s triple and a putback layup from Young provided the Cats with some much-needed scoring. 

The Boilermakers remained in control, though, maintaining a six-point lead with just over five minutes to play in the first half. NU’s patented pick-and-pop challenged the Purdue frontcourt, mainly Edey, as Beran connected on a 3-pointer to cut the Boilermaker advantage to one point. Edey knocked down a couple free throws to extend the lead to three points by the final media break of the half.

Guided by Edey, who tallied 12 points on 5-for-7 shooting in the first half, Purdue carried a 32-28 lead into the intermission.

The Boilermakers and potential All American guard Jaden Ivey blitzed the Cats out of halftime, opening up a 42-31 lead. A midrange jumper from Beran, followed by a Boo Buie driving layup (his first points of the game), trimmed the Purdue advantage to nine points at the under-16 timeout.

Young, who had eight points at this point, exited the game with an apparent hand injury with 9:48 to play in the second half and the Cats down nine. NU continued to battle defensively, especially first-year guard Julian Roper II who had two steals and two blocks in the half, but couldn’t really chip away at the lead until it was too late. The Cats cut the lead to single digits in the final minutes of regulation, but Purdue’s earlier advantage was too much to overcome. 


  • Purdue’s overwhelming size too much for the Cats

Needless to say, having a 7-foot-4 giant anchor the interior is a blessing for coach Matt Painter and Purdue. Edey is a force to be reckoned with, and rightfully so, but his overwhelming size was impossible for NU to match. Frontcourt members Nance, Young and Elyjah Williams — all 6-foot-10 or shorter — guarded him at some point in the game. The IMG Academy product frequently caught the ball in the paint, turned to face the rim and simply tried to move whoever was guarding him. And don’t forget about preseason All-Big Ten member Trevion Williams, who comes off the bench for the Boilermakers. Hampered by some early foul trouble, Williams struggled to affect the game greatly in the first period, but hit a couple of buckets to get on the scoresheet in the second half. Edey finished with14 points and eight rebounds, as Williams added four points and grabbed six boards.   

  • NU finds offensive production outside of its big three

With Buie and Chase Audige going scoreless in the first half, Collins found the necessary scoring in the form of his reserves. The Cats’ bench recorded 16 of the squad’s 28 points in the opening period, led by Young and Berry who combined for 11. It was Beran, though, who had a team-high eight points at the intermission. NU was less proficient in the second half, shooting 33.3% from the field, as Buie and Roper led the charge with 11 and 7 points, respectively. 

  • Any hope of a dream March Madness bid has all but evaporated

The clock is nearing midnight and the magic is beginning to fade surrounding an NU trip to the Big Dance. If the reality was not already bleak before the game, the Cats’ loss to Purdue was likely the last real chance at a marquee, Top 25 win in conference play for NU. Hopes of the program’s second appearance in March Madness have all but dissipated, but the Big Ten Tournament and a Cinderella run still remains.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

Related Stories:

Rapid Recap: No. 13 Illinois 73, Northwestern 66

Rapid Recap: Northwestern 59, Indiana 51

Rapid Recap: Northwestern 87, Nebraska 63