by Callie Counsellor (@CCounsellor)
Against most other teams, 73 points would have been enough. But against No. 13 Purdue, Northwestern needed four more.
Despite one of their best offensive performances of the season, the Wildcats fell to the Boilermakers 77-73, an accomplishment in itself given the fact that Purdue (16-3, 5-1 Big Ten) led by 19 points with 12 minutes left in the game.
Forward Maggie Lyon led the attack with 18 points, a welcome sight for NU (9-10, 1-5). The freshman missed nearly all of December with an injury and hadn’t scored more than 11 points since her return after averaging 15 points per game in the first month of the schedule.
For much of the first half, the Cats performance looked to be a disappointing follow-up to their first conference win against Illinois on Sunday.
Purdue took a 40-28 lead into the half and came out shooting, scoring 10 points in the in the first three minutes of the second period to widen its lead to 50-32.
The Cats finally began their comeback attempt with back-to-back jumpers from seniors Dannielle Diamant and Kendall Hackney.
On the other end of the count, the Boilermakers began missing, hitting only one field goal in a four-minute period. In the same time, NU hit five shots to bring the 19-point deficit down to seven with eight minutes to go.
Then came the threes.
Hackney, forward Lauren Douglas and Lyon all hit from beyond the arc. Unfortunately for the Cats, Purdue had rediscovered its shooting stroke, knocking down two jumpers and sinking four free throws to keep the lead at eight.
The Boilermakers maintained their small cushion until the final minute, when NU made one final push.
Hackney hit four free threes to bring the lead down to four with 38 seconds remaining. After a free throw by Purdue, Diamant nailed a long three-pointer and suddenly the lead was only two, the closest the Cats had been since the 14-minute mark of the first half.
From there, NU played the fouling game and Purdue did not fold, sinking six free throws to seal the win.
NU now turns its attention to a rematch with Indiana (10-9, 1-5) on Monday. The Hoosiers’ last win was against the Cats, a four-point victory on Jan. 6. They have dropped four games since then, most recently a 61-43 defeat against No. 23 Michigan.