Despite an inspired performance from the senior duo of Scottie Lindsey and Bryant McIntosh on Senior Night, the end of the story was the same as its been all season for Northwestern.
Brevin Pritzl hit a clutch three to put Wisconsin up four with under 30 seconds left, Lindsey missed one on the other end, and the Wildcats dropped to 6-11 in Big Ten play with a 70-64 loss.
Despite the late miss, Lindsey was brilliant all evening, leading all scorers with 26 points on just 16 shots. McIntosh looked like his old self in his first game back from a shoulder injury, dropping 18 points and 6 assists, but his 6 turnovers may have been a sign of rust or trying to do too much. Dererk Pardon had 10 points and 9 rebounds. Northwestern was held without a single bench point.
For the Badgers, Ethan Happ scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half and Khalil Iverson added 16 to help even the season series. Wisconsin hit 9 of its 20 three-point attempts, including Pritzl’s dagger that came with just seconds left on the shot clock.
Both teams executed well on offense for the most part, creating a fun, back-and-forth game that was close down to the very end.
In the final home games of their careers, McIntosh and Lindsey didn’t waste time looking for their shot, with each taking a three in the game’s first minute. Lindsey made his, but Northwestern — perhaps a bit jittery on Senior Night — turned the ball over four times in its first six possessions. Meanwhile, Wisconsin made four of its first six threes to jump out to an 18-7 lead.
The Badgers’ hot shooting from deep didn’t stop there. Using its patented swing offense that Bo Ryan won so many games with, Wisconsin found open look after open look against Northwestern’s zone. Belgian 7-footer Andy Van Vliet, who had scored 3 total points in Big Ten play in two years, hit three triples in the first 9 minutes of the game as his team started a nice 6-of-9 from beyond the arc. The Badgers were taking full advantage of Northwestern being without Law, who is their best perimeter defender.
The Wildcats may not have had Law, who was seen wearing a boot before the game, but thankfully they did have Lindsey. The senior from Hillside, IL was aggressive in the early going, starting 4-of-6 from the field and getting to the line a couple times.
The loudest cheers of the first half came when McIntosh, playing after missing two and half games with a shoulder injury, began to take over. First he drilled a three to pull NU within 4. Then he dropped a dime to Dererk Pardon for a slam and hit a midrange jumper on the next two possessions. B-Mac’s emergence coincided with Badgers cooling off from deep, and the Cats used a 9-1 run to make it 31-30 after Wisconsin had led by as much as 11.
A late Brevin Pritzl three was Wisconsin’s 7th of the first half, equaling the amount it hit all game last time these teams played. The Badgers entered the break leading 38-32 despite Ethan Happ scoring just 4 in the opening period. For Northwestern, 24 of its 32 points were scored by Lindsey and McIntosh.
The Wildcats came out strong after halftime, using an 11-4 run to take their first lead since it was 3-2. Yet Wisconsin answered with a run of its own, scoring 8 straight before a Lindsey three made it 50-46.
From there, the teams went back and forth the rest of the way. Anthony Gaines had another encouraging day, scoring 6 points on three strong drives to the rim. Lindsey continued his big night, with a stretch of 5 straight points to once again bring Northwestern back from a moderate deficit.
At the under-4 media timeout, Wisconsin led 60-58.
A clutch floater from Lindsey with under a minute left made it 65-64 Badgers, but the Northwestern defense lost track of Pritzl on the other end and paid the price.
While this loss is tough given the emotional nature of Senior Night, it actually might not be the worst thing in terms of Big Ten Tournament seeding. Northwestern will likely fall to the 10 seed and face off with either Penn State or Indiana next Thursday evening at Madison Square Garden. It means they will avoid playing Maryland for a third time, and if the Wildcats were to win their first game, they could get Ohio State instead of Michigan State.
Northwestern’s regular season wraps up in Iowa City on Sunday afternoon.