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Rapid Reaction: Northwestern outlasts Maryland 67-61 in conference opener

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1-0 in Big Ten play.

@NUMensBball on Twitter

COLLEGE PARK, Maryland — It was a Sunday matinee to remember for Northwestern (6-2, 1-0 B1G), as the ‘Cats defeated Maryland (5-4, 0-1 B1G) to pick up their first ever win in College Park.

Pete Nance and Boo Buie led the way for the ‘Cats with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Chase Audige followed close behind with 14 points of his own on 7-of-17 shooting. Nance had a double-double with 10 rebounds.

For Maryland, it was the Hakim Hart show. He had 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He shot 4-of-6 from beyond the arc and also finished with 7 rebounds. Eric Ayala had 10 points as well and shot 2-of-12.

Before the game had even begun, there was already good news for Northwestern fans. About 30 minutes before tip-off, it was announced that Audige, who sat out NU’s first seven games due to a hip injury, would start against Maryland.

Both teams got off to a slow start offensively. Audige missed the Wildcats’ first shot attempt on a three that rimmed out. The Terrapins got their offense going with a three from Hart, and the ‘Cats followed it up with a mid-range bucket from Buie.

After a few back and forth offensive possessions, Robbie Beran provided a spark by having no regard for human life when he posterized a Maryland defender. At the U-16 media timeout, NU led 6-5, with Audige shooting 0-for-2 and having one offensive foul.

Coming out of the media timeout, Buie hit a three to put the ‘Cats up 9-5. Buie got off to a quick start in this game, scoring seven of Northwestern’s first nine points. After that, the ‘Cats began to slow a bit offensively, with Maryland climbing its way back into the game and making it 11-10 with just under 12 minutes to go in the half.

He was quiet for the first eight minutes or so, but Audige eventually got his first points on a layup via a nice feed from Nance. Not long after, Beran hit a deep three to put Northwestern up by six. Of course, the Terrapins wouldn’t back down, as a five-point burst courtesy of some nasty handles and passes by Fatts Russell got the Terps back within one.

After a couple more threes from Maryland, including one by Ayala, the ‘Cats trailed 25-23. Of note, both Audige and Ayala received technical fouls after getting chippy after a play had ended.

In the final few minutes of the first half, there was consistent back and forth action. First Marcus Dockery nailed a corner mid-range jumper for his first points for the Terps. One possession later, Nance hit Qudus Wahab with a post hook to keep the ‘Cats within one point. Both teams would then proceed to turn the ball over consecutively.

After said turnovers, Elyjah Williams got his first points of the game off a nice steal and layup with just 40 seconds to go in the half. The ‘Cats added one more bucket on a lob from Buie to Nance, ending the half on a 6-0 run to go up 30-27.

To begin the second half, the Wildcats picked up right where they left, this time with a lob from Audige to Nance. The Terrapins fought right back to tie the game at 32, but another deep three from Beran put NU up yet again. A few possessions later, Buie ended a cold stretch of seven straight missed shots by hitting a floater to tie the game at 37.

After that show from Buie, there was plenty of back and forth action, but few points to show for it. Only one more basket — a three from Ty Berry — was scored before the teams went into the U-16 media timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, the teams continued to go back and forth. Audige picked it up a bit, scoring on two consecutive possessions to put Northwestern up by five. Williams then added a three to put the ‘Cats up by eight, forcing a timeout from Danny Manning and Maryland.

After the timeout, a Nance foul on Danta Scott with 11:02 left in the second half put the Terrapins in the bonus. This foul meant the Terps would be shooting free throws after every foul for the remainder of the half. Scott hit both free throws to make it a six point game.

Maryland would make it a two point game via a three from Russell, but Nance quickly answered from mid-range to make it 49-44. After four more quick points from Buie, a steal by Berry looked like it would put the ‘Cats up double digits. Berry missed the layup, however, and proceeded to foul Ayala, who sank two free throws. With 7:57 left, NU led 53-46.

The Terps weren’t going away, however. A deep three from Ayala made it a four point game. After that, two Northwestern fouls on Ryan Young and Beran sent Wahab to the line. He made 2-of-4 free throws to make it a two-point lead for Northwestern. A great cut and layup by Audige quieted the crowd a bit, but that was only until Russell hit another three for the Terps.

With just under three minutes to go, the ‘Cats led 57-54. Audige called isolation late in the shot clock, attempting a deep mid-range jumper that rimmed out. Nance pulled down a big rebound, however, and muscled his way to the basket to make the score 59-54. Nance hit another jumper on NU’s next possession to make it a seven-point lead. Soon after, Maryland called timeout.

Coming out of the timeout, Audige swiped the ball away from Ayala and took it the other way for a layup. From there, the ‘Cats iced the game, picking up their first ever win at Maryland and their first conference win of the season.

Northwestern return to Evanston for its next matchup against New Jersey Institute of Technology on Sunday, Dec. 12 at 3 p.m. CT on ESPNU.