In another conference battle with a subpar opponent, Northwestern started poorly but fought back in the second half to push this game to overtime, where the Wildcats eventually beat the Purdue Boilermakers 73-65.
Northwestern scored the game's first four points but soon saw Purdue, losers of four straight and eight of its last nine games, surge ahead a few minutes later. After a Nia Coffey layup at the 12:23 mark cut the Wildcats' deficit to one, the Boilermakers rolled off 12 points in a row to go ahead 25-12.
The Wildcats have mostly had success in the first half in Big Ten play yet almost allowed the Boilermakers to run away with this game. Instead, NU, which took a three-game winning streak into West Lafayette, was able to slowly fight back as the first half came to an end. Purdue went into the half with a 36-29 lead.
Joe McKeown's team, usually hot and cold from three-point range, missed its first four long-range attempts but made its final three, as triples from Lydia Rohde, Ashley Deary (18 points, six assists) and Maggie Lyon (14 points) finished out the half strong following a sluggish start. Purdue dominated the boards early, outrebounding the visitors 24-11 in the first 20 minutes.
NU started the second half strong, eliminating Purdue's lead via a 13-5 run kicked off by a Coffey (17 points, 11 rebounds) jumper. That gave the Wildcats their first lead since early in the first half.
In this game of runs, Purdue stormed right back, scoring eight unanswered as Northwestern's top players started getting into extreme foul trouble, which has been a problem in recent losses. The run also coincided with a four-and-a-half minute scoring drought for the visitors in which both Coffey and Lauren Douglas (13 points, seven rebounds) picked up their fourth fouls.
A jumper from Alex Cohen stopped the bleeding, and brought the score to 48-44 in the home team's favor. This sparked NU, which responded with its own 8-0 run that made this game close until the end of the regulation.
With neither team able to break away due to some dreadful offense, the score was all evened up at 60 after Purdue's Whitney Bays (13 points) knocked down a pair of free throws with just 1:53 left to play. Missed jumpers by both sides were exchanged and then, with 15 ticks to go, it was Purdue's ball with a chance to win.
However, Bays committed an offensive foul, giving the ball right back to Northwestern with three seconds remaining. Ashley Deary got inbounded the ball, ran toward the rim and threw up an ugly layup attempt that harmlessly bounced off the top of the backboard, sending this game into overtime.
The extra period was not nearly as closely contested as regulation was, though. After an Ashley Morrissette three gave Purdue a 63-62 lead just 40 seconds in, the more talented Wildcats scored seven points in a row to take a commanding six-point lead, punctuated by Maggie Lyon's fourth triple of the night. That proved to be the dagger to seal the victory for Northwestern.
NU improves to 18-6 (8-5) on the season with a road game vs Michigan upcoming on Saturday night. Purdue falls to just 10-14 (3-10) overall.