At least this time, it made sense.
Northwestern lost to Purdue 68-60 on Saturday night in Evanston, but it wasn’t exactly a heartbreaker. The Boilermakers controlled the ‘Cats in the paint for much of the night, and their superior depth was evident in a second half that was all Purdue. The loss drops Northwestern to 10-11 on the season and a disappointing 1-7 in Big Ten conference play.
The first half was dominated by the freshmen, as Bryant McIntosh lead the way on offense for Northwestern. Playing against a school that recruited him hard, McIntosh found ways to get to the rim against Purdue’s big guys and was a constant threat to score from beyond the arc. His eight first half points led all Northwestern scorers, but his passing wasn’t bad either. On one memorable play late in the first half, McIntosh went up for a contested layup before passing to a wide-open Gavin Skelly for an easy two.
McIntosh’s performance was matched by fellow freshman Scottie Lindsey, who has transitioned seamlessly into a starting role for the ‘Cats this season. Against the Boilers, Lindsey was an absolute dynamo, hustling for every loose ball and fighting for tough rebounds. He also went up for a few dunks that should eventually find their way onto a poster near you.
Both teams traded baskets in the first half, with Purdue looking to exploit their significant size advantage by getting the ball inside. The Wildcats relied on their guards to carry the scoring load and tried to beat Purdue from beyond the arc. Early on, it looked like Northwestern was in for another nail-biter.
But the second half was a different story.
Purdue came out of the locker room red-hot, stretching their lead to double digits within minutes.
“The game was lost … in the first six minutes of the second half,” head coach Chris Collins said, “I didn’t like the way we came out of the locker room in terms of our intensity.”
Most of Northwestern’s big men got into foul trouble trying to deal with Purdue’s mountain man combo of junior A.J. Hammons and freshman Isaac Haas, as Purdue continued to bully the Wildcats inside.
“They’re hard to play against because their huge,” Collins said. “They create a lot of foul opportunities.”
Collins said Purdue’s big men were able to control the paint using “Shaq post-moves,” and getting one-on-one matchups in the paint to take advantage of their size difference.
Though the ‘Cats were able to keep it close thanks to McIntosh and Tre Demps, who provided Northwestern with some long-distance offense down the stretch, Purdue was able to pull away late in the game.
McIntosh and Demps led the ‘Cats on offense, combining for 36 points, but Demps took no solace in his performance when analyzing the loss.
“I hold myself accountable before anybody else,” he said.
When asked about the ‘Cats seven-game losing streak, Demps talked about Northwestern’s next opponent, Nebraska, a team that started slow in conference play last season before going on a winning streak that landed them in the NCAA tournament.
“That gives you hope, seeing other teams do it,” Demps said. “We got to keep fighting, got to keep working and trust the process.”