Second-half surge propels Northwestern to stunner over PurdueMar 5, 2009 - 6:57 AM WEST LAFAYETTE, Indiana (Ticker) -- It took a furious second-half rally and a couple of lucky rolls down the stretch, but Northwestern finally did it Wednesday night, escaping with a 64-61 upset of No. 20 Purdue.
The Wildcats were down by seven at the break and saw that deficit balloon to double digits early in the second half. But that's as good as it ever got for the Boilermakers. When the tide shifted, it did so in lightning-quick fashion.
Craig Moore buried a 3-pointer to cut into a 44-34 deficit and Kevin Coble added a jumper one minute later, sparking a dominant, 22-3 run that suddenly put the game squarely in the Wildcats' hands.
"All we do is play close games. Any extra possessions we can get, we'll take," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said. "With the defense Purdue plays, three straight possessions will really wear them down. Coming into tonight, I thought we would have some opportunities on the offensive boards. It really paid off."
Coble's hoop pulled his team even at the 9:08 mark and Jeff Ryan added a layup not long after to put Northwestern on top - as it turns out, for good.
The Wildcats (17-11, 8-9 Big Ten) continued to pile on in front of a stunned Purdue crowd, which seemed on its way to witnessing its team's sixth victory in seven games. After falling behind, the Boilermakers called timeout to compose themselves but Northwestern didn't let up, forcing a turnover on the very next possession and capitalizing on Sterling Williams' lay-in.
"I thought Northwestern really played well down the stretch," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "We got good shots for the first five or six minutes (of the second half) and then we started forcing things. Williams and (Jeremy) Nash came in and just played harder, they were quicker to the ball, and gave their team a lot of energy."
Williams added a jumper and Michael Thompson connected from the arc to push the lead to 56-47. The Boilermakers (22-8, 11-5) went 1-of-9 from during that decisive stretch, finally getting back on the board thanks to E'Twaun Moore's layup, which sparked a 9-2 run to put some pressure on Northwestern.
But the Wildcats were up to the task. Coble passed out of a full-court press with 30 seconds remaining, finding Luka Mirkovic downcourt for an easy bucket to extend the lead back to four.
"Coble is very good at those intermediate shots. He hit a couple of very difficult shots," Painter said. "If they can stay close on the boards, they are going to beat a lot of teams. All the 50/50 plays, Northwestern dominated us in that category."
Purdue had more than its share of chances, but three potentially game-changing shots either rolled around the rim or bounced in and out, helping to preserve Northwestern's triumph.
"I was just really happy for our guys tonight," Carmody said. "There was a stretch when we didn't score. At the 8:05 mark I put in Williams, Nash and Mirkovic and they came in, hit some shots, opened the court and gave us a lot of energy."
Coble led the way with 16 points and eight boards for Northwestern, while Moore and Thompson added 12 points apiece.
E'Twaun Moore and Keaton Grant scored 14 points each for the Boilermakers, who shot just 41 percent (20-of-49).
- NCAA BB
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
NORTHWESTERN 28 36 64
PURDUE (20) 35 26 61 FINAL
Mar 4 8:31 PM
- NCAA BB
(20) PURDUE 35 HALFTIME
Mar 4 7:15 PM
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