Heartbreak is a cruel, cruel mistress.
Northwestern (20-9, 9-7 B1G) blew a late lead and gave up an and-one play to Thomas Bryant in the final moments, giving Indiana (16-13, 6-10 B1G) a 63-62 lead with 2.6 seconds left.
Bryant McIntosh finished with a game-high 22 points in the loss, and Dererk Pardon chipped in 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Wildcats. Bryant scored 11 points on the night, none bigger than the aforementioned three-point play.
It was a slow and disjointed start to the game, especially after McIntosh got poked in the eye and had to be patched up on the sideline just a couple of minutes into the game. De’Ron Davis and Dererk Pardon traded buckets to start before McIntosh, having re-entered the game, pushed the ball in transition off a defensive rebound to give the visitors their first lead, 6-4, at the under-16 timeout.
The Wildcats continued to work hard on the boards — Pardon had six by himself in the first eight minutes or so — and the offensive execution was some of the best in recent memory, spearheaded by fantastic defensive effort. The Wildcats hit six straight shots, including two Scottie Lindsey dunks off steals and one free-throw line pull-up from the junior, going into the under-8. Northwestern led 21-14.
Out of the media timeout, Lindsey knocked down his fourth straight shot, a three from the top of the key, and after the two teams exchanged several empty possessions, Vic Law Jr. blew past his defender to extend the lead to 26-14 with a thunderous dunk, forcing a timeout from an incensed Tom Crean.
Then everything fell apart. The Hoosiers went on a 22-0 run, including a 64-foot heave that DeVonte Green banked in to give the hosts a 36-26 lead into the break. Northwestern didn’t hit a single shot over the final 5:30 of the first half and mainly operated around the perimeter, taking tough jump shots. Indiana, which had committed a bevy of turnovers early, moved the ball with precision and got several good looks while pushing the tempo and crashing the offensive boards hard. The Hoosiers finished the half shooting 50 percent from three (6 of 12); the Wildcats were 16.7 percent (2 of 12). The Hoosiers got 12 points off their bench in the opening 20 minutes; Northwestern got four.
Northwestern started the second half on the attack, getting to the line six times in the opening four minutes and whittling the 10-point deficit to four by the under-16. On the other side of the timeout, James Blackmon Jr. missed a baseline jumper and Sanjay Lumpkin completed a traditional three-point play off the dribble drive before Vic Law hit a pair of free throws to give Northwestern its first lead in a while, 41-40. The visitors took a 45-42 lead into the under-12.
The Wildcats continued to stretch the lead into the under-8, with Skelly hitting from a midrange jumper to put Northwestern up 49-42 and cap a 21-4 run. Then, a McIntosh three off the dribble and a Lindsey lay-in after a strong drive to the bucket put the Wildcats up by six at 54-48.
Indiana then transitioned to a zone, which Northwestern struggled to solve from the field but was able to take advantage of by getting to the foul line, even though they struggled once the players got there. Both Pardon and Skelly split a pair of shots before McIntosh hit a floater to extend the lead to 58-50. Thomas Bryant completed a traditional three-point play on opposite sides of the under-4 to make it 58-53 with three-and-a-half minutes to go.
McIntosh banked in a three to extend the lead to eight, but with 2:44 left, Lumpkin picked up his fifth foul on a loose ball. After an extended period of struggling offense, Blackmon Jr. knocked down a three to cut it to 62-60 with a hair over 38 seconds remaining.
After McIntosh missed a floater with under 10 seconds to play, Indiana pushed the ball down the floor, and found Bryant for a dunk plus the foul. With the help of a friendly roll, the Indiana center hit the ensuing free throw off the back rim to put the Hoosiers up 63-62 and secure the win. Mcintosh’s heave at the buzzer rimmed out for a heartbreaking loss. The Hoosiers closed the game on an 8-0 run.
- This one hurts so so much.
- This is a late collapse of epic proportions. Northwestern can credit its poor free throw shooting and stagnant late-game offense.