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January 21, 2014

Cats top Purdue in 2OT thriller


EVANSTON-After the defensive performance Northwestern put on Tuesday night, it's fitting that a Drew Crawford block ended things for the Wildcats.

Northwestern, which didn't lead until double overtime, got big shots from Tre Demps and Sanjay Lumpkin when it mattered most and withstood the foul-outs of Lumpkin, Alex Olah, Nikola Cerina to beat Purdue 63-60 in double-overtime.

Basketball was secondary on Tuesday, as those around the nation had their thoughts with the Boilermakers following a shooting on Purdue's campus. At least for a few minutes, though, the game provided a reprieve from the events in West Lafayette. And what a game it was.

Here, then, are WildcatReport's rapid reactions following the 63-60 (20T) win:


Did you see that? Drew Crawford says no. With Terone Johnson streaking down the lane, JerShon Cobb tried to step in his path and draw the charge. When Johnson was able to evade Cobb, it seemed like an easy two points would be tacked onto the scoreboard for Purdue. That's when Crawford soared in and swatted the ball off the glass. While Purdue would score a 3-pointer on the possession, Crawford's rejection remained a play that had fans wishing for instant replay capability in Welsh-Ryan.


Offensive player of the game: Demps. He might not have had the best shooting percentage of his career -- he finished 5-of-13 from the field -- but Demps knocked down all four of his team's 3-pointers and banged in 5-of-6 free throws. Cobb also could've grabbed this spot, as he scored 15 points on 50 percent shooting, but Demps' big plays at the end earned him the nod.


Defensive player of the game:Alex Olah. It was yet another average performance from Olah on the offensive end, where he got rejected on several occasions. He made up for it, though, by grabbing three blocks of his own and corralling nine rebounds. When he fouled out with 2:45 to go, Northwestern definitely lost something on the defensive end. It was Olah's man, A.J. Hammons, who drew the foul against Nikola Cerina to earn free throws and take the lead with less than a minute to play.


Turning point: There's a number of plays to choose from here, from Nate Taphorn's inbound play to Demps' big shot at the end of overtime. It's also hard to discount Cobb's big bucket to force overtime. The game, though, wasn't really over until the last play, and so it's hard to pick anything other than Crawford's rejection of Ronnie Johnson's 3-point attempt before the final buzzer.


Atmosphere: This wasn't the most raucous crowd we've seen at Welsh-Ryan this season, but then again, there was no way any in-game crowd reaction would live up to what we saw before the tip. Hours after the deadly shooting on Purdue's campus, a group of Northwestern students painted their chests to read "Stand with Purdue." A picture of the students quickly spread over social media and undoubtedly reminded fans of both teams of what's truly important. A moment of silence to honor the victim took place shortly before tip off. When it really mattered, though, the crowd got loud. As the clock ticked under four minutes to play and the Boilermakers clinging to a three-point lead, Welsh-Ryan was surprisingly loud. It stayed that way through the end of regulation and both overtimes.


Key stat: Four-for-24. That was Northwestern's shooting percentage from beyond the arc, and it was a big reason why the game took 50 minutes to decide. The 16.7 percent shooting from 3-point range really hurt Northwestern as it attempted to tie the game in the second half. The Cats certainly had a lot of chances; Purdue turned the ball over nine times in the second half and overtime. Demps, however, was the only player able to knock in a shot from deep. Northwestern's poor shooting from behind the arc, coupled with below-average free throw shooting, caused the Cats to give away valuable opportunities.




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