What a brutal weekend of Northwestern basketball.
Despite leading by four with 1:23 left, the Northwestern Wildcats (19-10, 8-8 B1G) collapsed down the stretch and lost 61-59 to the Purdue Boilermakers (19-11, 10-6) on a buzzer-beating putback Sunday afternoon at Mackey Arena.
Andreona Keys’ game-winning layup left her hands with 0.1 seconds left on the clock and gave Northwestern another tough loss. The defeat also had major Big Ten Tournament seeding implications. The Wildcats would’ve jumped up to the five seed with a win, but instead fell all the way to ninth.
Lauren Douglas led the way for Northwestern with a season-high 23 points and 5 rebounds, while Nia Coffey was also fantastic in support with 19 points and 6 rebounds.
For Purdue the scoring was fairly even, with Keys leading the team with 13 points, while Ashley Morrissette and Dominique Oden were also in double digits with 10 and 11 respectively.
Northwestern’s start to the game was reminiscent of most of its slow starts on the road this season. The Wildcats only scored five points over the first eight minutes and looked to be playing themselves right out of the game. For Purdue, Morrissette was on fire to start, hitting her first three shots and scoring a quick 7 points.
Northwestern didn’t score for over four minutes in the first quarter and with two minutes left trailed 16-5. However, Douglas got hot down the stretch, scoring 7 points in two minutes, and the Wildcats used a 9-1 run to cut the deficit to just 17-14 at the end of the first.
Unfortunately for Northwestern, the hot streak at the end of the first did not transfer over to the second. The Wildcats had yet another four minute scoring drought, and only shot 29 percent from the field in the quarter. Despite this, Northwestern only trailed by one, 21-20, about halfway through the quarter.
But yet another common Northwestern trend from this season reared its ugly head, as the Wildcats couldn’t close out the quarter strong. Purdue finished the half on a 12-5 run and took the 33-25 lead into halftime.
The majority of the third quarter was just more of the same for Northwestern. Even though Purdue was held to 12 points, the Wildcats only scored 9 points over the first seven minutes and it appeared as if the game was about to be out of reach.
But over the final three minutes of the quarter, Northwestern went on a 7-0 run, highlighted by a clutch Ashley Deary three, and despite long stretches of poor offense, the Wildcats only trailed 45-41.
This time, the Northwestern continued its hot stretch into the next quarter. A Lauren Douglas and-1 and Nia Coffey three-pointer extended their run to 13-0 and gave the Wildcats their first lead of the game, 47-45.
Northwestern would extend its lead to 52-49, before an Oden three-pointer tied it at 52 apiece. Then with Northwestern leading 54-52 on a Lauren Douglas layup, Oden hit another three-pointer to put Purdue up 55-54.
Then Douglas hit what seemed like the biggest shot of the season.
Her three-pointer from the wing to put Northwestern 57-55, just as it seemed like the game was slipping away. Coffey followed up with a layup to make it 59-55, but an Oden steal and layup cut the lead back to two.
Then two free throws from Keys tied the game at 59. After Northwestern turned the ball over, Morrissette air-balled a potential game winner, but it fell right to Keys right under to basket. She bounced the ball in off the backboard as time expired and Purdue won 61-59.
Just like their male counterparts the night before, the Wildcats stopped executing down the stretch and blew a late lead in the state of Indiana.
The loss drops Northwestern to the ninth seed in the Big Ten Tournament, which means their next game will be against eighth-seeded Iowa at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis at 11 a.m. CST on Thursday.