Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Northwestern falls to Purdue in 15th double-digit loss of the season

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Freshman guard Casey Harter goes up for a layup in Northwestern’s 28-point loss to Purdue.

After succumbing to its 14th double-digit loss of the season against in-state rival Illinois, Northwestern returned home to Welsh-Ryan Arena to host Purdue with hopes of securing a Valentine’s Day victory. 

Unfortunately for the Wildcats (8-16, 3-10, Big Ten), hopes dimmed early on, and they fell 74-48. 

Though the Boilermakers (11-13, 4-9 Big Ten) fared slightly better than NU in their non-conference slates, both teams entered Wednesday’s game with a dismal 3-9 record against Big Ten opponents. 

The Cats’ got off to a hauntingly familiar start, as early offensive woes plagued them yet again. The team still sought its first points four minutes into the matchup.

“How you start is how you’re gonna finish. If you start down 9-0 opposite then it’s not good,” senior guard Jasmine McWilliams said.

Two transition layups and a mid-distance jumper from junior guard Melannie Daley eventually put NU on the board, but the squad still found itself down by double digits for most of the first frame. 

At the end of the first quarter, graduate student guard Maggie Pina nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, but the ‘Cats remained behind 18-9 after the opening 10 minutes.

The second quarter brought little relief for coach Joe McKeown’s squad, outscored by a slightly greater margin than they had been in the first period.

With four minutes remaining in the second frame, the Boilermakers began a 27-0 run that lasted more than nine minutes. 

Daley attributed Purdue’s ability to score so many uncontested points to a lack of urgency on defense.

“We knew they could run in transition and I think at times we were more focused on rebounding or just not looking behind us to see who’s running,” Daley said.

At halftime, the hosts were trailing in nearly every statistical category, except turnovers, where they had 13 compared to Purdue’s 10.

Though the first half was rough, the third quarter proved the proverbial nail in the coffin for the ‘Cats. 

A rare 3-pointer from junior forward Caileigh Walsh ended Purdue’s streak of 27 unanswered points, but it wasn’t enough to garner any semblance of offensive momentum for NU. 

In the fourth quarter, the ‘Cats outscored the visitors 18-17, but the team’s deficit was still insurmountable.

One positive takeaway from Wednesday’s matchup was significant offensive contributions from traditional role players. On a quiet night from the starting five, 28 of the team’s 48 points came off the bench.

Due to illness on the team, four out of five of McKeown’s starters saw fewer minutes than their average, giving ample opportunity for players like McWilliams and freshman forward Crystal Wang to make substantial contributions. 

“We’re a program that’s built on player development,” McKeown said. That’s why we’ve been great over the years and we want that to continue.” 

Putting another blowout loss behind them, the ‘Cats will aim to find respite on a northern excursion this weekend. With Minnesota on a six-game losing skid, NU hopes to flip its own losing run and take down the Golden Gophers Sunday.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @AudreyPachuta

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