EVANSTON, Illinois — A...winning streak? You better believe it.
Northwestern (8-14, 5-13 Big Ten) used a game-ending 6-0 run to beat Maryland (15-11, 9-10) 60-55 in a sluggish meeting on Wednesday night in Evanston.
In the defense-first affair, NU propped itself up with the long ball early, hitting 10 threes despite going without one for the final 16:34.
After shooting the ball well for the majority of the game, the Terrapins missed their final seven looks as they didn’t score in the game’s final 2:32. For a while, Maryland simply couldn’t get out of its own way. NU miscommunicated on several switches which led to missed assignments and open looks, but UMD turned the ball over 15 times, notably over its average of 11 per game.
NU’s scoring output was balanced, as three Wildcats hit double figures. Boo Buie led the way with 15 points on 5-of-12 shooting (3-of-7 3PT), while Chase Audige used four triples to chip in 14, and Pete Nance added 12.
Aaron Wiggins led the Terps with a standout performance, scoring 26 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including 5-of-9 on triples.
Maryland opened the game on a 9-0 run after nailing four of its first six baskets. Pete Nance capitalized on an offensive rebound to get ‘Cats on the board after nearly five scoreless minutes, and then they began to claw back.
After turning the ball over five times to Maryland’s none, back-to-back threes from Chase Audige and Ty Berry brought NU within one. Then the Terrapins returned the favor, giving the ball away six times in less than 6 minutes, allowing NU to go on a 10-2 scoring run.
The Wildcats struggled to shoot, connecting on just 10 of their 31 attempts in the first half, despite taking eight more shots than UMD. Miller Kopp, NU’s best three-point shooter, however, was uncharacteristically cold, missing all 11 of his tries (eight of them threes). He finished scoreless.
Each team was quiet for around 4 minutes, until the ‘Cats took their first lead with 8:07 left in the half thanks to some sharpshooting from Pete Nance, who tallied eight points on 3-of-4 shooting. Nineteen of NU’s 31 first half shots were from three, which accounted for eight of their only ten makes.
Maryland continued to struggle scoring the ball and headed to the locker room on the heels of a 2:31 scoring drought.
Despite outshooting UMD by eight in the first half, NU led just 28-26 at halftime. The Terps dominated inside, outscoring Northwestern 12-2 in the paint. Buie, Audige and Nance led the way for the Wildcats with nine, eight and eight points, respectively.
Wiggins had 13 points at the break on an efficient 5-of-7 shooting.
NU began the second half strong, making three of its first five attempts and extending the lead to five points at the under-16 timeout. Following a double-technical foul called on Audige and Darryl Morsell, the teams continued to trade buckets. The ‘Cats led 41-37 with 11:27 left.
Maryland then started to heat up, hitting its next four attempts, which included a 6-0 run keyed by triples from Wiggins and Eric Ayala to tie the game at 43, prompting Chris Collins to call timeout. NU went without a field goal for 4:05 before Ryan Greer found a cutting Nance for a layup, and Greer hit a floater shortly after.
The Terps took their first trip to the foul line with 6:31 left to play, eventually earning their first lead of the second half, which Nance answered with a fadeaway jumper. The teams continued to seesaw back and forth, as Maryland led by one with just under two minutes on the clock.
A Ryan Young layup with 90 seconds left gave the ‘Cats a 56-55 lead, but they couldn’t add to it on their next possession. As the shot clock expired, Miller Kopp forced up a contested shot that fell short. Mark Turgeon called timeout, and on the ensuing possession Ayala missed a three-pointer with 13.7 left. Young grabbed the board and was immediately fouled by Scott. The redshirt sophomore made both free throws, extending the Wildcats’ lead to three points.
Morsell missed a potential game-tying three with 4.1 seconds left, sending Buie to the line. The guard nailed both to seal it.
Northwestern closes out its regular season at home against suddenly surging Nebraska on Sunday.