After a short trip to the nation’s capital, where the ‘Cats defeated Georgetown, Northwestern (4-0, 0-0 B1G) returned to action Friday night in Welsh-Ryan Arena and scratched out an 60-52 win over Purdue Fort-Wayne (2-2, 0-0 Horizon).
The Wildcats were lifted by senior guard Boo Buie on a night where he scored his 1,000th collegiate point. Buie continued his standout season and kept implementing himself as one of Northwestern’s top weapons, scoring 28 points and was 7-for-13 from three. On the other end, veteran Bobby Planutis had 14 points, 12 coming from outside the arc.
The game was back-and-forth to start. After an opening basket by PFW’s Jarred Godfrey, Robbie Beran responded right away to knot the game at two. Boo Buie gave the ‘Cats their first lead of the game with a three-pointer, but the Mastodons immediately answered with a Godfrey triple. Ty Berry was able to pry away the ball from Godfrey and put in an easy layup, and Tyus Verhoeven also scored his first points of the night as Northwestern led 9-7 at the first timeout.
Two Northwestern turnovers by Julian Roper II and Buie, respectively, allowed PFW to take the lead shortly after the break. The ‘Cats turned cold and went 0-for-5 out of the timeout; Buie started the game 1-for-5. PFW went on a 6-0 run that saw Northwestern go four minutes without scoring, but baskets by Ty Berry and Chase Audige leveled the game at 13.
After a three-pointer by Bobby Planutis, Northwestern had a 5-0 run, amassing a four point lead. But, another three by Planutis kept the game within one, yet Buie hit his own triple to restore the ‘Cats four point lead. This trey marked Buie’s 1,000th point in his career.
Northwestern had another cold span, where it did not score a basket for 3:56 of game action. While PFW was struggling offensively, it did have a basket from Ra Kapedi. A free throw from by JoJo Peterson made it a one-point lead for the ‘Cats.
Buie got the Wildcats out of their funk with his third three of the night, and PFW still could not mount anything offensively; between the traveling calls and steals by Northwestern (six in the first half), the Mastodons struggled to find consistency on this end of the court. NU went 12-for-29 overall and 5-for-13 from deep in the first half.
The last basket before the break for the ‘Cats was Buie’s fourth three pointer; the senior went 4-for-7 from three in the first half and was also Northwestern’s leading scorer with 12, with the Wildcats leading 31-24.
At the start of the second, Buie created his own 6-0 run that put his total up to 18 points on the night. PFW drew up blanks on offense, and Northwestern opened its lead to 37-24. The Mastodons continued to be ice cold: it took them 2:30 to score their first points of the half courtesy of Kpedi. But, Northwestern continued to pull away: an Audige triple was canceled out by Jarre Godfrey’s own three, and the ‘Cats were up 13 at the first media timeout.
This was followed by a span where neither team had success offensively. Between the 13:23 and 10:19 mark, zero points were scored. Damien Chon Qui broke the drought with a three to pull the Mastodons within ten, but a Barnhizer basket returned the deficit to 12.
Still, PFW would not go away. A triple from Deonte Billups made it a seven-point game with 7:45 left in the second half. Out of the media break, Chase Audige turned it over as Northwestern turned cold.
Northwestern continued to bobble the ball, and a Planutis three reduced the deficit to four. A Beran layup restored it to six, but the Mastodons had seized momentum inside of four minutes. The ‘Cats experienced foul trouble late in the game, specifically with Beran picking up his fourth, and all of a sudden it, was a one-possession game. Two Planutis free throws cut the game to one.
However, Buie came to the rescue. The New York native scored only his second basket from inside the arc to put Northwestern up three, and shortly after, hit his seventh three of the game to make it a six-point affair.
After two misses from deep, Northwestern was able to escape. Good defense from the ‘Cats shut the door on a Mastodon team that kept the game close.
Northwestern heads to Cancun to face Liberty Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. CT, with the broadcast on CBS Sports Network.