Write this one down as Northwestern basketball’s biggest win ever.
Using stifling defense and timely runs, the Northwestern Wildcats (19-6, 8-4 B1G) defeated the No. 7 Wisconsin Badgers (21-4, 10-2) 66-59 Sunday night at the Kohl Center. Only Northwestern’s second win ever at the Kohl Center.
Bryant McIntosh led all scorers with 25 points, while also adding 7 rebounds and 7 assists, while Vic Law had a huge game as well, scoring 11 points and hitting 3 three pointers, but also fouled out during the last minute of the game.
For Wisconsin, Ethan Happ had 13 points and 7 rebounds, but was getting doubled all game and looked out of sorts at times. Bronson Koenig, matched up against Law for much of the night, was noticeably quiet throughout the game. He only had 2 points on 1-of-8 shooting
Just like the last few games, offense was at a premium early on as the two teams only combined for 10 points in the first four minutes. This included a shocking free throw line jumper from Happ, only the second shot he’s ever made outside the paint in his collegiate career.
The visitors hit a rough stretch out of the first media timeout. Wisconsin ripped off a quick 8-2 run thanks to a Charles Thomas IV three pointer, only his second of the season. Northwestern was shooting 33 percent from the field and Wisconsin led 14-8 at the under-12 timeout.
Both teams went cold offensively over the next few minutes, as each team only hit one field goal: a floater from Bryant McIntosh and a three pointer from Vitto Brown. Much of Northwestern’s offense was running through Vic Law, but he just couldn’t get anything to go, starting the game 0 of 5 from the field.
Law finally broke the drought with a contested three pointer and after McIntosh hit a pull-up jumper, Northwestern only trailed 19-17 with 6:54 left in the first half.
Out of the timeout, the floodgates opened. Pardon tied the game up at 19, and then Law’s second consecutive three gave Northwestern the 22-19 lead. The Wildcats had used a 10-0 run to come all the way back. The run continued as Nate Taphorn hit back to back three pointers, and Greg Gard was finally forced to call a timeout after watching his team give up 16 unanswered points.
Northwestern got hot at the right time, hitting 6 of 7 shots and three from downtown to take a nine point lead. After not scoring for almost five minutes, Wisconsin got back on the board with a Zak Showalter three pointer that finally ended the 16-0 run.
Down the stretch of the first half, Wisconsin kept missing from deep, while everything just kept going Northwestern’s way. McIntosh banked in a three-pointer to give Northwestern a 31-22 lead, and despite once trailing 19-12, Northwestern took that nine point lead into halftime.
Northwestern started the second half poorly, as Wisconsin hit back to back three pointers, and McIntosh shot two straight air balls. Just two minutes into the half, the lead had been cut to three and Chris Collins was forced to take a timeout.
The situation did not improve out of the timeout as Northwestern was still ice cold. Less than four minutes in Wisconsin had a 10-0 run of their own and took a 32-31 lead.
Northwestern started the half 0 of 8, but just like in the first half, a Law three-pointer jumpstarted the offense. Sanjay Lumpkin followed up with a layup and Pardon with a dunk, and suddenly Northwestern had answered Wisconsin’s 10-0 run with an 8-0 run of its own and taken a 39-32 lead.
Vitto Brown ended the run with a three pointer on the other end, but McIntosh answered right back with a floater. After the teams traded baskets, Northwestern ripped off a quick 6-0 run to extend its lead to 47-38.
Wisconsin would not go away that easily however, after a Pardon dunk made it 49-42, Nigel Hayes finished an and-1 to ignite the Kohl Center crowd and the game. Isiah Brown hit an impressive layup on one end and D'Mitrik Trice hit a jumper on the other.
Then came the dagger.
With Northwestern only up by four, Lumpkin splashed a three pointer from the corner to make it 54-47. Hayes hit a putback, but then McIntosh hit a contested floater to keep the lead at seven.
After Nigel Hayes went 1 of 2 from the line, McIntosh blitzed into the lane and hit a layup to make the lead 58-50. Then a lob to Lumpkin made it a 10 point lead.
Northwestern made it very interesting by not corralling some defensive rebounds, but the visitors managed to ice the game at the line and pulled off the incredible upset over No. 7 Wisconsin 66-59.