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Northwestern can't silence doubt in loss to No. 13 Maryland

Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- There are two types of noise.

There's the type of noise that is super loud but persistent. It's so loud that it drowns out your thoughts. So loud that, in the midst of chaos, there's serenity. The noise is blaring but it's bearable, even comfortable after awhile.

Then there's the type of noise that grows and keeps growing. One that grows louder with every mistake but one that can also be quieted at once. And at its loudest point, it's deafening and hard to shake.

Each time, it seemed, that the raucous Xfinity Center crowd tried to get into the game with a bellowing roar or synchronized chants, Northwestern had an answer for No. 13 Maryland -- silence.

An 11-point lead cut to six within the opening minutes of the second half got the Terps back into the game, only to be answered with an 8-0 run from the Wildcats.


The noise-level rose again when another Maryland run with about 10 minutes left in the game cut Northwestern's lead to just five. But a 6-0 Northwestern run pushed the lead back up to 11.


With fewer than 30 seconds left, Northwestern faced the noise yet again as Maryland cut the Wildcats' lead to just one with a 12-2 run over the previous three minutes.

It was then that Bryant McIntosh went to the free throw line for a one-and-one. The crowd stood as their voices rose. The noise was deafening. It was unshakeable.

McIntosh had a chance to redeem himself. Sure, whether or not he makes a short runner at Michigan just about a week earlier to force the game into overtime won't matter in the long run, but it sure as hell did matter to McIntosh.

So there he stood, the 18-year-old freshman, 15 feet away from a hoop situated in front for a sea of red shirts and yellow and black optical illusion wheels. He had played what may be the best game of his career: 37 minutes, 21 points, 10-14 from the field, just one turnover.

"I want the ball in that kid's hands," Chris Collins said.

But he missed and the noise seemed destined to take over.

Two Melo Trimble free throws gave Maryland a lead with just about 21 seconds left and Northwestern called a timeout.

Collins tried to calm his players down in the huddle. He still believed Northwestern would win at that point. Confidence is the ultimate remedy for noise.

"We are going to win," he said. "Look, we're going to score and win the game. We're going to win the game. We're down by one. It's our ball. We're going to come out. We're going to execute a play. We're going to score and we're going to win."

When Northwestern took the court against a light Maryland press, the noise was almost unbearable. It wasn't just the crowd, though. It was also the noise from Northwestern's previous four losses: an overtime loss at Michigan State, a five-point loss to Illinois, back-to-back two-point losses at Michigan and against Ohio State.

Doubt was the loudest noise in the Xfinity Center.

"I think you have a tendency when you lose some games like this, you can say to yourself, ‘Oh, here we go again,'" Collins said.

Northwestern found Tre Demps at the top of the key. He took a few dribbles to his left, attacking the lane before leaping back toward the perimeter and nailing a fadeaway step-back jumper with about 13 seconds left. Northwestern was up 1.


Trimble raced down the court and missed a pull-up three.


Dez Wells raced past JerShon Cobb from the three-point line toward the hoop as the ball caromed off the rim.


The ball landed in Dez Wells' hands and in one motion he lofted the ball back up toward the hoop. It ricocheted off the backboard and into the hoop with 1.4 seconds left to put Maryland up 68-67.


"Losing doesn't feel good," Collins said. "I don't want my guys to accept losing. Like, it's not okay. Losing's got to hurt because that's the only way you change it. It hurts real bad. And I know a lot of guys in that locker room who hurt real bad right now."

"It's tough," McIntosh said. "I've won all my life."

Now the noise continues for another week.

Will Northwestern finally break through? Can the Wildcats learn to win? Will Chris Collins be able to shake the program's reputation as a tough-luck loser?

That's the noise that's toughest to quiet. It's the noise from within that's hardest to silence, a constant reminder of doubt, of losing.

Northwestern beat Maryland for 39 minutes and 58.6 seconds.

It just so happens that those last 1.4 seconds were the loudest of the game.