When playing one of the top offensive teams in the conference, a 35 percent shooting effort usually isn’t a recipe for success. The ‘Cats can attest to that, after they were defeated at No. 22 Purdue 90-65 on Thursday, despite another great performance by freshman forward Nia Coffey, who finished with 20 points and seven rebounds.
After hitting their first shot five seconds into the game, the ‘Cats would struggle mightily to get anything going offensively, draining just four of their next 17 field goals. With just under nine minutes to go in the half, they found themselves down 26-15, and shooting only 27 percent.
Northwestern managed to pick up the scoring and wound up with 34 at the half, thanks to sophomore forward Lauren Douglas, who came off the bench to score eight points to close it out. She ended the night with 14 points and two rebounds. Perhaps a couple similar performances going forward will make Coach Joe McKeown reconsider her for a spot in the starting lineup.
Nonetheless, the ‘Cats were down 45-34 at the break, partly because they simply couldn’t stop Purdue junior forward Liza Clemons, who scored 15 in the first half, despite coming into the game averaging just over eight and a half. She finished with 8-of-12 shooting to lead the Boilermakers on her way to a double-double by the end of the matchup.
In the second half, the ‘Cats simply had no answers for Purdue’s high-octane attack, which built a 19-point lead at one time.
After the ‘Cats had managed to claw their way back to single digits, Whitney Bays and Courtney Moses connected on consecutive jumpers to thwart any chance for a Northwestern comeback. It seemed that whenever Northwestern scored, Purdue had an immediate answer, proving why the Boilermakers are one of the top teams in the conference.
With about five minutes to go, the game got really ugly, as Purdue went on a 16-4 run to close it out.
Northwestern will look to rebound from this one when they take on No. 21 Nebraska at home on Sunday.
- Nia Coffey: She continues to impress in Big Ten play, building her case as the Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Coffey would become the second Wildcat in a row to achieve this honor, joining Maggie Lyon who won it last year. Thursday night saw another outstanding performance by this high school All-American, as she played well despite her team being down throughout the contest.
- Northwestern’s three point field goal defense: The ‘Cats allowed the Boilermakers to shoot 38.5 percent from behind the arc, which can help explain why they were defeated by such a large margin.
- ‘Cats play down the stretch in the second half: It’s unrealistic to suppose the ‘Cats could have come back from 13 down with under six minutes to go, but it almost looked as if Northwestern threw in the towel in the final minutes of the game.