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Northwestern-Illinois final score: Illini top ‘Cats 81-76 as losing streak grows to 10

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For the second time of the Chris Collins era, Northwestern has lost 10 straight games.

NCAA Basketball: Northwestern at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

EVANSTON — Double digits!

After losing 81-76 to Illinois (11-18, 7-11 Big Ten), Northwestern (12-17, 3-15) has lost 10 straight games for the second time of the Chris Collins era (2014-2015 was the first). Northwestern had a balanced scoring effort offensively, but there just wasn’t enough production, particularly in the first half when the Wildcats scored just 27 points.

Andres Feliz led the Illini with 22 points on 12-of-13 shooting from the free throw line, and three other players scored in double-figures in the game.

On par with their recent shooting performances, the Wildcats shot 40 percent from the field and 26 percent from beyond the arc. Vic Law continued to see his shots clank off the rim, making just three of his 12 shots and connecting on 16.6 percent of his threes.

Illinois built a double-digit lead early in the first half, in large part because of its fast-break offense. The Illini outscored NU 15-2 on the break in the first half, and NU went just 1-of-13 from three in the opening 20 minutes.

The ‘Cats came out hot in the second half, and there seemed to be hope for Ryan Taylor yet. Taylor sunk three shots from beyond the arc in the first six minutes of the second period, helping cut the deficit to just three.

Over the next minute and a half, Illinois stretched the lead back out to 10 and held a steady lead from there until the game’s final minute.

Miller Kopp almost brought Northwestern back from the dead, drilling a three and then hitting three free throws to bring the game to 77-74 with less than 30 seconds to go, but the Illini were able to seal the game at the line.

All things considered, 76 points is a pretty good offensive showing for the ‘Cats. Taylor and Kopp certainly took steps in the right direction and Pardon was as reliable on both ends of the floor as usual, but it appears Northwestern remains immune to winning.