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Northwestern-Purdue final score: Wildcats fall 74-69 in West Lafayette

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Northwestern couldn't find a way.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Purdue Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Northwestern came close, but couldn't quite finish.

Dererk Pardon finished with 20 and 8 rebounds and 4 assists on 9-of-12 shooting, turning in an incredible performance, though he fouled out late, which hurt Northwestern inside. At the end of the game, Chris Collins's team just couldn't get the stops it needed in the second half.

Northwestern began the game up 6-2 early on, but a 12-0 Boilermaker run put the Wildcats in a hole.

Slowly but surely, NU team fought its way back. Led by 11-first half points from Scottie Lindsey and seven points from Isiah Brown off the bench, NU erased the early deficit to get to halftime tied at 33.

Purdue's size, like it has in years past, gave Northwestern some trouble, but strong defense, part of which came in a zone, stymied Matt Painter's team, forcing it into under 38 percent at the break. In the second half, however, Purdue overwhelmed the Wildcats, hitting timely shots and making layup after layup inside.

Seven-footer Isaac Haas dominated in the post to the tune of 26 points on just 13 attempts. Pardon battled him, but he was just too big and too strong.

Purdue got on another spurt as the second half began, but Northwestern had an another answer. Vic Law Jr. got going with a couple of threes, and, despite some wide-open misses from the Boilermakers, NU held firm on defense.

It wasn't enough, though. A late turnover and missed three from Bryant McIntosh did Northwestern in, and the Wildcats head back to Evanston thinking what could have been at Mackey Arena.

Takeaways

1. Isiah Brown is gaining confidence

After struggling for much of the season, it appears that Brown's confidence is back. He gave the team a needed lift off the bench, which allowed Bryant McIntosh to rest for stretches. If Brown can continue to score, he adds a badly-needed scoring component off the bench. His nine points were crucial.

2. Northwestern is playing better

Northwestern lost, but it played well in a hostile environment against one of the best teams in the conference. This win would've been huge for NU's Tournament resume, so losing this game is disappointing, but it should inspire some confidence for Chris Collins. It was a good road performance for the Wildcats. Still, it hurts.

3. Dererk Pardon played his best game of the season

Pardon has struggled with turnovers this season, but, against the biggest team Northwestern has played all season, he was up to the challenge Sunday. He kept his team in the game in the second half, and showed good patience around the rim against Haas and Haarms. This was the Pardon we expected to see coming into the season.

4. Bryant McIntosh really struggled

B-Mac scored just five points on two-of-eight shooting, including one-of-five from three. The turnover and missed three were killer.