Rapid Recap: Northwestern 60, Purdue Fort Wayne 52


Katie Chen/The Daily Northwestern

Senior guard Boo Buie dribbles the ball. Buie led Northwestern with 28 points on 9-for-18 shooting in its win against Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday.

Alex Cervantes, Assistant Sports Editor

Coming off the heels of a resounding victory over Georgetown in the nation’s capital Tuesday in the Gavitt Tipoff Games, Northwestern still seemed to be shaking off the jet lag against Purdue Fort Wayne on Friday.

Though the Wildcats (4-0, 0-0 Big Ten) would eventually close out the Mastodons (2-2, 0-0 Horizon League) 60-52, the result was anything but assuring. Both teams got off to a sluggish start with the visitors boasting a 16-13 lead after 10 minutes of basketball. NU would close the first half on an 18-8 run, propelled by buckets from senior guard Boo Buie and sophomore guard Brooks Barnhizer. 

Out of the intermission, an 11-2 burst from the Cats seemingly signaled a repeat of their dynamic, high-scoring second-half performance against the Hoyas. But basketball is a game of runs, and the Mastodons threw several jabs to wobble the hosts. All in all, a 24-11 run from Purdue Fort Wayne saw NU’s lead trimmed to just three points with three minutes remaining. 

Despite the Mastodons’ best attempts at securing an upset victory, the Cats leaned on Buie — as they had all game — to close out the contest. Buie scored NU’s final 10 points, finishing the game with a season-high 28 points on 9-of-18 shooting and 7-of-13 from deep. 

Here are three takeaways from the Cats’ bout with the Mastodons.


  1. Buie leads offensive charge in stagnant first half

Following NU’s season-opening victory against Chicago State, coach Chris Collins said his team struggled to deal with their opponent’s physicality initially. Friday’s contest mirrored that performance as the Cats struggled getting into offensive sets due to Purdue Fort Wayne’s on-ball pressure.

Compared to their blistering start against Georgetown earlier on Tuesday, the Cats managed just nine points in the game’s opening eight minutes. NU came into the contest averaging 12.3 turnovers per game, but the Mastodons forced Collins’ side into eight in the first half alone. 

In a half where the Cats made just 12 field goals, Buie shouldered much of the scoring load. The New York native poured in 12 points, courtesy of four triples, in 19 minutes of action. His second three-pointer of the game extended NU’s lead to four, while also lifting Buie to 1,000 career point club. 

  1. The highs and lows of Audige’s offensive creation on display once again

Collins said earlier this month that fans and opponents alike would see Audige starring as NU’s lead guard in stints throughout the season. In the campaign’s early moments, Audige has shown great ability to collapse defenses and create open looks for his teammates. Friday was no different.

Entering the contest against Purdue Fort Wayne, Audige was second on the team in assists per game (5.3). He eclipsed that total just three minutes into the second half by finding graduate student forward Tydus Verhoeven for a layup. 

When tasked with playmaking responsibilities against the Mastodons, Audige did well to find the open shooters on the corner or wing, finishing the game with six assists. Still, the ball security which has plagued Audige’s time in Evanston manifested once more. The New York native turned it over five times in 30 minutes of action.

In the season’s infancy, Collins still seems resolute in trusting Audige with ball handling responsibilities, but the redshirt senior guard will need to prioritize ball security as the season wears along.  

  1. NU gears up for first tests of the season in Cancun

With all due respect to the Cats’ first four opponents — Chicago State, Northern Illinois, Georgetown and Purdue Fort Wayne — the quartet are all sub-130 teams according to KenPom. 

Heading south of the border, NU will get its first look at a top-100 opponent in Liberty on Tuesday in the Cancun Challenge. The Flames boast one of the nation’s premier scorers in Darius McGhee and a deep roster, though they are coming off a four-point loss to Southern Mississippi. If the Cats can defeat Liberty, a date with either No. 13 Auburn or Bradley awaits.

A matchup against the Flames and a potential game against the Tigers provides NU with a pair of non-conference resume boosters after handling business through four games. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @CervantesPAlex 

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