By Kevin Sweeney
As the Wildcats jockey for position in the Big Ten and look to bolster their resume for March, they head to West Lafayette for a matchup with Purdue. Here are three things to know about this key game.
This is the second meeting of these two clubs this season, with Northwestern dropping a 57-54 heartbreaker in Evanston on January 13. the Wildcats dug themselves a 11-point halftime deficit and clawed all the way back within one with 17 seconds to go. But Lindsey Pulliam’s shot for the win with five seconds to go rolled off the iron, and the Boilermakers were able to escape with the victory. Pulliam led the way with 15 points, while Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah posted 13 points and 14 rebounds.
This game has major implications for Northwestern’s postseason hopes. Entering today’s action, the ‘Cats are tied for fourth in the Big Ten, while Purdue sits just one game behind in a tie for 7th. The top four teams get double-byes in the Big Ten Tournament.
Meanwhile, the ‘Cats need to beat Purdue to boost their NCAA Tournament hopes. Right now, Northwestern has just two wins against teams in ESPN’s latest Bracketology update. Wins against the field are a key metric the Selection Committee considers, and Purdue is currently solidly in the Dance if it started today.
Crashing the Boards:
Senior Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpanah sits just 14 rebounds away from 1,000 career rebounds. She’d be the second Wildcat ever to reach that milestone, joining Nia Coffey. Kunaiyi-Akpanah had 14 rebounds against Purdue in January.
She’ll match up with another one of the top bigs in the conference in Ae’Rianna Harris. Harris is the top shot-blocker in the Big Ten (averaging over three swats per game) and also posts 13 points and nine rebounds per contest.
Ben Krieger and Kevin Sweeney will have the call on WNUR Sports, with pregame coverage starting around 4:45 central. For more coverage of the ‘Cats, check out the latest episode of Crashing the Boards, the premier Northwestern Women’s Basketball podcast.