EVANSTON— Unlike its previous two games involving devastating late-game blown leads, the Wildcats suffered a piercing defeat to Michigan 79-54. Once the Wolverines (15-9, 6-7) overcame an early NU lead, Juwan Howard’s club never looked back and remained in firm control of the game until the final buzzer.
Led by Isaiah Livers and Eli Brooks’ combined 35 points, Michigan willed its way to an easy victory. For Northwestern, Jared Jones represented one of the few bright spots for the Wildcats with twelve points. NU’s offensive output was once again abysmal; as the team shot 32.2% from the field and 23.8% from three.
This game started out eerily similar to an 11 a.m. Ryan Field football game despite an 8 p.m. tip-off. By the under-four minute media timeout, the Welsh-Ryan Arena stands were half-filled by a majority of Michigan fans. Both teams combined to shoot 2-16 from the field in this time frame. With a layup and jumper, Pat Spencer jump-started the Wildcats’ offense with the first four points of the game.
In the following five minutes, each team went on a run of their own. WRA quickly became lively after a pair of Jared Jones jumpers spurted Northwestern to a 13-6 lead. The Wolverines responded with a 10-0 run of their own that concluded with Chris Collins furiously signaling for a timeout.
Collins’s timeout did not stop the bleeding. Emblematic of the Wildcats’ season-long offensive inconsistency issues, NU went on a scoring drought lasting over five minutes. In the same period, Michigan scored eleven unanswered points to take a 33-18 lead with roughly 2:30 remaining in the first half. Overall, this was a part of a 28-5 Michigan run dating back to nearly 13 minutes left in the half with Northwestern’s early 13-6 lead.
Through a balanced scoring attack from Isaiah Livers, Eli Brooks, and backup center Austin Davis, the Wolverines went into halftime leading the ‘Cats 38-23. Pat Spencer led the Wildcats with eight points without any other Wildcat topping five points at halftime.
Continuing its bullish first-half play, Michigan trounced NU to begin the second half. A little over five minutes into the second half, the Wolverines led 50-27, clearing out a majority of the remaining Northwestern fans at WRA.
Michigan built a 58-38 lead over Northwestern with just over nine minutes remaining, yet the Wildcats showed signs of life and clawed back. With the help of Miller Kopp’s five point flurry, the Wildcats cut Michigan’s lead to 12 with just under seven minutes remaining.
After Northwestern’s brief comeback, Michigan put its final stamp on the with just over five minutes remaining. On a breakaway by himself, Isaiah Livers thunderously dunked the ball, ballooning Michigan’s lead to 17 points.
The Wolverines never looked back after Livers’ dunk. Ultimately, NU fell by 25 points. The schedule will not get any easier for NU to break its eight game losing streak. On Saturday, Northwestern travels to Happy Valley in a matchup with #13 Penn State.