It was less than two weeks ago that Northwestern used a big run to take down nationally ranked Rutgers in a big win for NCAA Tournament seeding. The run against the Scarlet Knights came a little bit later on Friday, but the fourth-seeded Wildcats rode a big second half to defeat fifth-seeded Rutgers 62-57 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Despite going down 30-15 in the latter portion of the first half and being down 10 at halftime, No. 24 NU went on a 29-9 run to start the second half run and win comfortably over No. 23 Rutgers.
While the young players on this team have gotten the most attention — and deservedly so — this season, it was the veterans who stepped up. Senior Alex Cohen pulled down a big rebound and hit a three to bring the Wildcats within three early in the second half, and junior Maggie Lyon led the way with 15 points and 10 rebounds for her second career double-double. And all of this while star Nia Coffey struggled with foul trouble, picking up three fouls in the first half.
This was the Wildcats' first game of the Big Ten Tournament, having earned a double bye. They will face top-seeded Maryland in the semifinals on Saturday, a week removed from losing, 69-48, at home to the Terrapins, who rank fourth nationally in the AP Poll.
Even if NU can't pull off a massive upset against the Terps in Hoffman Estates, the win over Rutgers puts them in good position for NCAA Tournament seeding. The Wildcats are currently projected to be a seven seed in the NCAA Tournament by ESPN Bracketologist Charlie Creme, but this win could vault them onto the six seed line, where Rutgers currently sits.
Here are the final stats from Friday's game: