For the first time since the end of 2016, the Purdue women's basketball team fell to Northwestern 61-56 in a hotly contested matchup Sunday in Evanston, Illinois.
In a back-and-forth effort, the Wildcats (14-2, 4-1 Big Ten) forced and capitalized on errors from the Boilermakers (11-6, 2-3). Northwestern scored 19 points on 18 Purdue turnovers. The Boilers only produced 7 points on 10 Wildcat turnovers.
The game was competitive from the tip. By the first media timeout of the game six minutes into the first quarter, both teams had the same 7-16 shot percentage and Purdue held a 1-point lead.
The Wildcats quickly flipped the momentum and dominated the middle two quarters, scoring 16 points on 38.9% shooting in the second quarter and holding the Boilermakers to just 8 points. Wildcat center Abbie Wolf led the team with 24 points, 11 rebounds and five blocks.
This momentum shift was headlined by an 11-0 Wildcat scoring run in the second quarter, led by guard Jordan Hamilton. Hamilton's 7 points created and widened Northwestern's lead, in addition to a six-minute Boiler scoring drought.
Northwestern spent the third quarter widening its lead, and owned an 18-point margin with three minutes left in the quarter. The Boilers scored their first points of the second half five-and-a-half minutes into the third quarter.
This game also served as a statement start for junior forward Jenelle Grant. Grant, who rotated into the starting lineup after junior guard Tamara Farquhar suffered a season-ending knee injury, led the Boilers with 16 points and four rebounds.
Of additional note was Northwestern's suppression of senior forward Ae'Rianna Harris. Harris was held to three blocks in the game and recorded her first of the night in the fourth quarter.
Purdue's team defense also improved over the course of the game. Northwestern's shooting percentage fell from 43.8% in the first quarter to 12.5% in the fourth. The Boilermakers also held the Wildcats to 2-14 shooting from the 3-point line
Harris' defensive emergence marked a final push on Purdue's part. The Boilers narrowed the Wildcats' lead to 2 points with fewer than 10 seconds in the game, and a last-second 3-point shot from senior guard Dominique Oden nearly won the game for the team.
• Purdue holds an all-time series lead of 50-23 against Northwestern, with a 22-16 mark on the road.
• Despite just eight points, Harris hauled down 14 rebounds. She sits 14 boards away from breaking the all-time rebound record of 968
• Kayana Traylor dished out a game-high six assists, marking the first time the Boilermakers dropped a game when she finished with at least five helpers.
• Karissa McLaughlin connected on a pair of 3-pointers to bring her career total to 200. She is the fourth Boilermaker in program history to top that plateau.
• Purdue finished with 20 points in the paint, marking the 14th game of the year with at least 20 points inside.
• Northwestern finished below their season average in points (68.7) and field goal percentage (43%). Purdue has held an opponent below their season average in points 16 times and field goal percentage 14 times.
• Harris recorded three blocks, all coming in the fourth quarter. It was the 11th time she has turned away at least three shots this season.
• Cassidy Hardin also had a block, her first of the year and third of her career.
The Boilermakers will return home to Mackey Arena to face Illinois on Thursday at 7 p.m. on BTN+.
– Purdue Athletics Communications contributed to this report.