Evanston, Ill. — The ‘Cats finally did it.
Northwestern (12-10, 5-8 B1G) beat Indiana (16-7, 7-6) in front of a sold-out crowd at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Tuesday night. With the victory, the Wildcats pushed their winning streak to three — though it feels much longer.
For NU, Boo Buie paved the way to the win with 18 points, while Pete Nance — with his dad, Larry, in attendance — added six points and 11 rebounds. Star Trayce Jackson-Davis paced the Hoosiers with 13 points and 11 rebounds, solidifying his ninth double-double of the season, while sophomore Trey Galloway contributed 13 points in his first start of the year. IU was without five players — notably Xavier Johnson — due to disciplinary reasons.
The night got off to a surprisingly great start for the shorthanded Hoosiers, as Jackson-Davis hit an and-one that got the Indiana crowd roaring. In addition, the Big Ten’s leader in blocks did just that on the following possession, swatting away a Buie layup attempt.
Julian Roper II got the ‘Cats on the board with a put-back tip-in, but the Hoosiers jumped out to an early lead behind layups from Trey Galloway and Race Thompson, which put IU up 7-2 before Chase Audige hit a rolling hook shot.
The two teams traded shots from there, with Indiana ahead 11-8 at the first media timeout.
Galloway deposited a three to give the Hoosiers a six-point advantage, but Buie promptly responded from deep. From there, Jackson-Davis caught an errant shot and slammed it down. Northwestern seemingly had no answer for the center early on.
The ‘Cats remained persistent, though, going on a 4-0 run via a jumper from Audige and a scoop layup from Ryan Young to cut the lead to one. However, Miller Kopp made his first bucket of the night — a three-pointer to restore the Hoosier lead. The former Wildcat had just three points on 1-for-7 shooting.
Ryan Greer found space inside the paint and cashed in, and Pete Nance hit a turnaround hook to tie the game at 19 near the 8:30 mark. The two squads went scoreless for over a minute until an Audige inbound steal yielded a Buie hesitation layup, giving NU its first lead of the night at 21-19.
The ‘Cats’ advantage was short-lived, though. Thompson threw down a two-hand jam over Audige to tie the game at 21, and IU continued its momentum from there. Jackson-Davis collected his own rebound, fought through contact and made an and-one, and Jordan Geronimo used a killer ball-fake to drain an open three. Inside of five minutes to go in the first half, Indiana led 27-21 following an 8-0 burst.
In the final four minutes of the half, NU and IU combined to shoot just 2-for-10 on field goals, and the Hoosiers went into the break up 30-26, with Galloway, Jackson-Davis and Buie having compiled nine points each. The four-point deficit didn’t seem too bad considering Northwestern shot a ghastly 1-for-13 from deep during the first 20 minutes of play.
At the beginning of the second half, Audige got things started by burying a pull-up jumper. After Jackson-Davis missed two free throws, IU’s Anthony Leal knocked down a triple, and Galloway converted on a jumper to put the Hoosiers up 35-28.
However, the Wildcats went on a scoring spurt, tying it at 35 with buckets from Buie and Nance before topping off the 7-0 run with a nasty three from Audige.
After the Audige triple, an Indiana technical foul led NU to retake the lead on a Greer free throw. Greer’s encore involved a tough fadeway jumper to give Northwestern a 38-35 advantage. The ‘Cats grew their run to 13-0 as Beran nailed a three — only the team’s third make of the evening — while the Hoosiers went over five minutes without any points.
Jackson-Davis finally put an end to the Indiana drought, throwing it down with authority to revitalize the IU fans in attendance. While Buie responded with a three, the Hoosiers answered with a Thompson bucket to set the score at 44-39 with 10 minutes remaining.
Elyjah Williams erased a 1-for-8 shooting slide for the ‘Cats with a layup, but two Jackson-Davis makes from the charity stripe kept it a five-point game. With 6:27 left, NU held a 48-43 advantage.
A Thompson jumper drew IU within three, but Audige drilled a bank-shot trey to give Northwestern a 51-45 lead inside of five minutes. Subsequently, Galloway was assessed for a flagrant one foul, leading to converted two free throws from Young.
However, a quick 4-0 spurt from Indiana and an charge assessed to Young had the the two teams locked in a 53-49 affair with just three minutes left in regulation.
Galloway fouled out at the 2:36 mark, earning his second flagrant one. Nance swished a pair of free throws, giving the Wildcats a 55-49 lead with two minutes left.
Jackson-Davis missed the first leg of a one-and-one, and Buie made him pay by nailing a floater to extend the ‘Cats’ lead to eight. The Hoosiers responded in just seconds with a Thompson bucket, but a Kopp airball from deep put the game to bed.
The Wildcats next take to the court on Sunday when they travel to Urbana-Champaign for a rematch with in-state rival No. 13 Illinois.