Northwestern beat Purdue on Saturday 66-50, moving the Wildcats to 13-10 and 4-6 in the Big Ten. Northwestern was led by two seniors, Jared Swopshire and Reggie Hearn. Hearn led the game in scoring, with 26 points, a career high. Swopshire added 13 points and 7 rebounds.
These two senior shave been very good recently, keeping a Drew Crawford-less Northwestern team afloat this season. Crawford was Northwestern’s best player, following the graduation of John Shurna. He scored 16.1 ppg last season, the sixth best in the Big Ten. However, a torn labrum ended Crawford’s season in December. Northwestern’s two top scorer from last season were both gone following the loss of Crawford, leaving many question marks about this team.
Who would score?
Hearn and Swopshire have answered the call. Swopshire has averaged 10 points and seven rebounds a game this year, after scoring just over 3 points a game last season. The lanky and athletic (at 6-8ft), attributes that Northwestern lacks as a team. He brings energy and has not been afraid of the big moment, leading the charge in the upset of then no. 8 Minnesota two weeks ago.
Hearn had scored 14 points and over 4 rebounds a game. He has been the perimeter scorer that Northwester lost when Crawford went down. He has been very efficient in his scoring, shooting over 47 fg%. Hearn too has had injury troubles, having missed two weeks just before conference play. But when he has played, Hearn has been an offensive spark.
Despite the mediocre season Northwestern has had so far, they have seen two seniors step up on offense in the face of the loss of Crawford. The shame is, when Crawford returns next season, both Swopshire and Hearn will be gone. For now though, Hearn and Swopshire are keeping the Wildcats afloat and respectable.