Northwestern deals No. 6 Purdue 3rd straight loss
Northwestern's purple-clad fans raced to the middle of the floor Saturday with a reason to jump up and down and celebrate - the Wildcats finally beat a ranked team at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
"Storming the court, that's pretty cool,'' said freshman Drew Crawford, who hit two clutch 3-pointers and made a three-point play in the second half to lead a 72-64 win over No. 6 Purdue.
"I might have gotten popped in the face one time, but it was pretty cool.''
Northwestern (13-4, 2-3 Big Ten) lost earlier at home to ranked teams Butler, Michigan State and Wisconsin but was able to send the Boilermakers to their third straight defeat by doing some storming of their own. They crashed the boards with a 42-23 rebounding advantage.
The last time the Wildcats beat a team ranked as high as sixth on their home floor came in 1979, when they defeated then-No. 4 Michigan State 83-65.
"I mean they outrebounded us and it wasn't even close,'' said Purdue's E'Twaun Moore, who led the Boilermakers with 24 points.
Purdue (14-3, 2-3) has its first three-game losing streak since dropping five straight in 2006 at the end of coach Matt Painter's first season.
Painter said his team's morale was fine and so was its understanding of what has gone wrong after 14 straight wins to open the season.
What is needed, he said, is more effort on the glass. The Boilermakers' performance on the boards Saturday was hurt by foul problems for 6-foot-10 JaJuan Johnson.
"It was just Northwestern's ability to chase down long rebounds and dominate the glass,'' Painter said. "We got beat by a better team that played harder than we did.''
Crawford's first 3-pointer with just under seven minutes left put the Wildcats up 51-50 and they never trailed again.
He hit another 3-pointer with 2:04 left to push the Wildcats ahead by four. And after a Purdue miss, he drove through the middle for a layup and was fouled. His three-point play with 1:32 to go put Northwestern up 64-57.
Two free throws by Luka Mirkovic gave the Wildcats a 10-point lead with 54 seconds to go.
Robbie Hummel's 3-pointer with 33.4 seconds left cut the deficit to six before the Wildcats ran out the victory when Jeremy Nash made two free throws.
Michael Thompson, who played despite stomach problems, led Northwestern with 20 points. Mirkovic finished with 16 points and 10 rebounds, while Crawford had 15 points, 11 in the second half.
"I kinda waited for my time in the game. My teammates found me,'' said Crawford.
"The second half I hit a couple of shots. ... We knew we were capable of beating them, but it does feel good to actually beat them.''
Purdue now plays at Illinois before starting a three-game homestand.
"We definitely got to have a sense or urgency,'' Moore said. "We got to, that's three in a row. ... We've faced adversity before, lost a couple of games in a row. We just came back hard, ready to fight. That's what we got to do.''
Boilermakers guard Chris Kramer ended up on the court writhing in pain following a scramble for the ball with 5:37 left in the first half. He limped off the court, got treatment and was able to return, making a key steal and layup that got the Boilermakers within one at the end of the half.
Ninety seconds after Kramer was hurt, Hummel headed to the locker room holding a towel to the side of his head to stop bleeding after apparently being hit by an elbow. He re-entered the game with 3:47 to go in the half and seconds later hit his first basket of the game, a jumper from the baseline.
Hummel was already playing with a dislocated left pinkie, an injury he sustained late in Purdue's 70-66 loss to Ohio State four days ago when he scored a career-high 35 points with eight 3-pointers. He had the injured finger taped to another one and managed five first-half points before finishing with 20.
Hummel said the Boilermakers are being challenged.
"We're having some difficulties here. Losing three in a row is something we haven't done since we've been here,'' he said. "We're going to see how tough we are.''