Yeah, that was a tough one.
For the first 13 minutes of this game, Northwestern looked about as bad as they've looked in years, falling behind 32-14, and appeared to be on their way to a humiliating defeat. But Alex Marcotullio came off the bench to help spark a 17-0 run to somehow make the game close at halftime. I've having trouble explaining how miraculous this seemed at the time, but it was completely out of nowhere.
Then Reggie Hearn, who led Northwestern with 18 points, sprained his ankle and had to leave the game early in the second half. But still, Northwestern hung in there. Alex Olah had a career high 16 points and looked solid in the post. Tre Demps came in and scored 12 points in just 14 minutes, displaying an incredible propensity for chucking; he never even considered passing the ball, including on Northwestern's final possession, when he took a tough floater instead of passing to Jared Swopshire who was open for a lay-up. The floater fell off the rim and Stanford hung on.
Nothing really went according to the script in this one. Stanford, who came into the game as one of the nation's worst three point shooting teams, didn't look like it tonight, hitting 11 of 24 threes. And their star player Dwight Powell was largely a non-factor, managing just 8 points. Instead Josh Huestis dominated inside with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and little-used point guard Aaron Bright came up huge in the second half, moving the ball well against the 1-3-1 zone and hitting the go-ahead three in the final minutes. And Dave Sobolewski had probably his worst game of the season, with just 1 point and 3 assists in 39 minutes,
Unfortunately, I think we're going to see a lot of games like this from Northwestern this season: some great stretches of play from the team's freshman that make us optimistic about the future, but also some maddeningly poor stretches that lead to deficits that are too large to overcome.