Women’s Basketball: Northwestern drops fourth straight contest in 76-61 loss at Purdue


Daily file photo by Alyce Brown

Sophomore guard Jillian Brown looks to make a pass. Brown scored five points and added two assists against the Boilermakers on Sunday.

Jake Epstein, Assistant Sports Editor

On the wrong end of a three-game losing skid, Northwestern hit the road Sunday to take on Purdue. The Wildcats (8-17, 1-13 Big Ten) fell flat in their second loss of the season to the Boilermakers (17-7, 8-6 Big Ten), who cruised to a season-sweep over the Big Ten’s bottom squad.

Early on, the NU offense heavily leaned on junior guard Jasmine McWilliams, who opened the contest’s scoring tally with a bucket inside the paint before knocking down a deep two to put her team up 4-2.

The Cats couldn’t sustain their lead and completely cooled offensively. Purdue rode a 7-0 run, helped in large part by a 2:47-long NU scoring drought, into the first media timeout. 

After Boilermaker forward Caitlyn Harper converted two shots from the charity stripe, sophomore guard Jillian Brown finally ended the Cats’ cold streak with a mid-range jumper. Fresh off the bench, sophomore guard Hailey Weaver drove her way through contact and converted a crucial and-one to bring the contest within three points.

Neither side shot the lights out in the first frame, but Purdue benefitted from 7-of-8 free throw shooting to carry a 14-12 advantage into the second quarter.

Boilermaker guard Lasha Petree kicked off the second period with a 3-of-3 trip to the foul line. Weaver responded with a three-pointer and assisted graduate student forward Courtney Shaw to tie the contest at 17.

While both teams looked like they shot out of a cannon at the quarter’s start, the contest quickly reverted to its first frame form. 

The sputtering offenses seemingly found a second wind after Purdue junior guard Madison Layden’s perfect trip to the charity stripe. Sophomore forward Caileigh Walsh hit back with a basket inside, before Boilermaker guard Cassidy Hardin converted two consecutive three-pointers.

Purdue hit its stride, knocking down four of its past five shots and forcing coach Joe McKeown to call a timeout with his squad down 35-27 with 1:01 before the half.

Freshman guard Caroline Lau nailed her second floater of the contest off the stoppage, and the Boilermakers led 35-29 at halftime.

McWilliams opened the half with a second-chance bucket inside the paint, but Purdue swiftly seized momentum, carrying a 9-0 run midway through the third quarter and into a media timeout. With just under five minutes of action left in the frame, the Boilermakers had held the Cats scoreless for 2:09 and forced three turnovers in that span.

Lau’s layup ended NU’s offensive lull, but Harper scored at the other end, stretching the Purdue lead to 15 with 3:41 left in the third frame. Brown looked to flip the game’s script with her first outside conversion of the contest, and she dished out to Weaver for a three-pointer that cut the deficit to nine points.

However, the Boilermakers seemed to possess an answer for every punch, and Petree delivered a three on the ensuing possession. Buoyed by Hardin’s 16 points, Purdue carried a 59-45 lead into the final frame.

After Harper tallied her 15th point of the matchup, Walsh drew two quick fouls, resulting in a 1-of-2 trip to the line. Though the Cats were in need of an offensive turnaround for any hope of a comeback, they missed their first seven shots of the quarter.

Graduate student guard Sydney Wood made NU’s first field goal midway through the final frame before senior guard Kaylah Rainey picked off an errant pass and knocked down a layup. Rainey helped cut the deficit to 11 on an and-one and followed that by sinking two free throws.

With two minutes to go, Weaver sprinted into the paint, grabbed a board and scored her 11th point of the afternoon on a layup.

Despite small semblances of hope, a technical foul for six Cats on the court settled the result. While Weaver hit her third shot from beyond the arc, extending her career high to 14, Purdue coasted to a 76-61 home victory.

NU returns to road action Wednesday at Rutgers. The Cats hope to see junior forward Paige Mott regain her recent form, as her seven-game double-digit scoring streak came to a screeching halt with zero points Sunday.

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