In a game neck-and-neck throughout, Northwestern (18-7, 9-5 B1G) pulled off a miracle, beating No. 1 Purdue (23-3, 12-3 B1G) 64-58 at a sold out Welsh-Ryan Arena.
Boo Buie’s 26 points, four rebounds and three assists alongside Chase Audige’s 15 points and late game heroics led Northwestern to an improbable victory.
For Purdue, Zach Edey’s 24 points and 8 rebounds wasn’t enough, as the Boilermakers lost their second game in eight days.
After setting a screen for Audige on Northwestern’s opening possession, Matthew Nicholson gave the ‘Cats a quick 2-0 lead, dunking home the basketball to get the crowd going.
Trailing 6-4 after three Purdue layups — two from Caleb Furst and one from Fletcher Loyer — Nicholson continued providing the ‘Cats offense, finishing an alley-oop off a sweet dish from Boo Buie. But good ball movement had Purdue’s offense buzzing. Consecutive threes by sharpshooter Mason Gillis gave Purdue a 13-6 advantage.
Unafraid of Zach Edey’s reach, Northwestern attacked the basket, with Buie, Ty Berry and Tydus Verhoeven finishing looks over the outstretched arms of college basketball’s best player. Brooks Barnhizer added two more off a 15-foot fadeaway jumper to pull the ‘Cats within four.
With Edey on the bench coming out of the second media timeout, Buie put home his own second chance layup. And on the other end of the court, Verhoeven amped up Northwestern’s student section by turning a Loyer layup aside.
But Purdue responded by getting hot from distance. Ethan Morton and Gillis tripled, leading the Boilermakers out to an 8-0 run, before a Buie three from the top of the key kept the Wildcats within single digits.
After the third media timeout, Edey made his first field goal attempt of the afternoon. But Nicholson continued his run of good play, tipping home a Berry airball in the waning seconds of the shot clock to make the score 30-25 in favor of the Boilermakers.
On an almost four-minute scoring drought, Northwestern’s offense disappeared, turning the ball over three times while looking stagnant. But after good ball movement with five seconds left in the shot clock, Verhoeven earned a trip to the charity stripe after getting hacked on a dunk attempt. The big man converted one-of-two at the line to make the score 32-26 Purdue.
After an Edey basket in the post, Buie flashed his touch hoisting a floater over the 7-foot-4 center. To beat the buzzer at the end of the half, Buie banked home two more off the glass to keep Northwestern hanging around.
A mix of Northwestern’s inability to connect from deep — a dreadful 1-of-8 through the first 20 minutes — and Purdue’s great ball movement setting up open looks from downtown had the Boilermakers leading 37-30 at the half.
Coming out of the break, Purdue’s interior defense remained staunch, with Edey blocking two Buie layups. Undeterred, the Northwestern guard continued to attack the paint flipping in a six-footer to put the ‘Cats within four.
After two free-throws from Purdue’s Furst, Audige opened his scoring with a triple sending Northwestern’s student section into uproar as the ‘Cats clawed to within three. But Edey reclaimed the momentum for the Boilermakers, converting two free-throws, slamming a dunk over Nicholson and adding four more within two feet of the basket to force Northwestern into a timeout trailing 47-39.
Audige made it a six-point game, converting a 16-footer from the elbow to get to five points on the afternoon.
A minute later, Buie stole a baseline inbound pass, racing the other way before Purdue’s Gillis fouled the Albany native. Gillis was called for a flagrant one, and Buie made one-of-two at the stripe. After an Ethan Morton jumper, the senior guard added two more at the line to pull the ‘Cats within four with nine minutes left.
That’s when Northwestern’s offense sputtered, failing to make a field goal for the next four and a half minutes, as Edey added a hook shot and two from the line to give the Boilermakers a 53-45 lead.
But Buie found an extra gear, blowing past Edey on a dribble-drive inside before finishing a reverse layup to make it a 53-47 game. Edey added two more in the post, forcing Chris Collins to call timeout down eight with just under four minutes remaining.
Audige heard his calling card, splashing a three from the corner. On the ensuing defensive possession, the senior stole the ball from Loyer before dunking it home on the fast-break, sending Welsh-Ryan Arena into a frenzy. Audige continued to find magic getting a friendly bounce on a 16-foot jumper to put the ‘Cats within three.
Defensively, Northwestern brought its best, forcing Purdue to miss from deep. Barnhizer grabbed the rebound, got fouled and converted two at the line making it a 57-56 game. On Northwestern’s next offensive sequence, Audige splashed a corner triple to give the ‘Cats an unlikely 59-57 lead. After a Purdue turnover with 40 seconds left, Berry found Barnhizer in transition putting the ‘Cats up 61-57.
Braden Smith and Ty Berry traded free throws, and with 20 seconds left on the clock, Purdue’s last chance to fight back was stolen as Buie swiped the basketball from Smith’s hands, and after making two free throws put the closing finish to Northwestern’s biggest regular season win in program history.
Northwestern will look to extend its three game win streak Wednesday against No. 18 Indiana with tip-off scheduled for 8 p.m. C.T at Welsh-Ryan Arena.