No. 25 Northwestern (7-2, 1-0 B1G) was searching for its first victory at Welsh-Ryan Arena as a ranked team since defeating Iowa 80-77 in 1959 when facing off with Chicago State (4-9). It still didn’t come Wednesday night, with the Wildcats falling to the Cougars in a 75-73 stunner.
On an evening where Boo Buie moved into the top five on Northwestern’s all-time scoring list, Northwestern had to fight hard for a victory. Buie was the leading scorer for the ‘Cats with 23 points, and also led the team with eight assists and six rebounds. Ryan Langborg and Brooks Barnhizer joined him as double-digit scorers with 18 and 13 points, respectively. But it was the duo of Wesley Cardet Jr. (30 points) and Jahsean Corbett (17 points) led the way in Chicago State’s surprising upset.
Chicago State won the opening tip, but NU got on the board first with a Barnhizer layup following a Chicago State turnover. After Northwestern took a 4-2 lead, Chicago State fought back and led 7-4 after three minutes of action. However, Buie and Langborg quickly answered with back-to-back threes to give the ‘Cats a 10-7 lead and force the Cougars to take their first timeout.
Northwestern extended the lead to 12-7 after a Luke Hunger layup, at which point both teams started heating up offensively. A Cardet, Jr. three cut the lead to 14-12, but the ‘Cats went on an 8-0 run behind two Langborg triples and another Hunger layup and took a 22-12 lead into the second media timeout.
The ‘Cats and Cougars traded baskets for the next few minutes, and Northwestern led 28-18 with eight minutes left in the first half after Matthew Nicholson converted an and-one. From there, Chicago State went on a 7-1 run to cut Northwestern’s lead down to just four points with six minutes left in the half.
A Ty Berry to Nicholson alley-oop stopped the run and another Nicholson dunk extended the lead to 8. But Corbett hit back-to-back threes to spark a 6-0 run for the Cougars, and with 2:31 left in the first half, Corbett drew a foul on a fastbreak layup and hit both free throws to tie the game at 33-33.
Chicago State got its first lead since the 17:34 mark in the half after a dunk off of a Northwestern turnover with 2:10 left, but Buie hit a three to respond and retake a one-point lead for the ‘Cats. Cardet Jr. and Barnhizer traded buckets near the end of the half, and Northwestern held on to a 38-37 lead at the end of a first half where the ‘Cats shot above 50% from the field and 45% from three, but turned it over seven times.
A Buie missed dunk in transition led to a layup by Cardet Jr., and after a Chicago State dunk, Northwestern was forced to take a timeout, trailing 41-38 with 17:44 left. The Cougars kept up the pressure on the defensive end, and after a four-minute scoring drought from the ‘Cats, Chicago State led 45-38. Barnhizer got inside the paint, and his layup cut the lead down to five at the first media timeout of the second half.
Langborg hit his fourth three of the game to make it a 45-43 game, before Corbett made two free throws to give Chicago State a 47-43 lead. From there, Barnhizer made one of two from the free throw line; then, Nick Martinelli deflected a pass, leading to a Langborg pull-up that cut the lead down to just one.
Berry broke his 0-for-5 shooting slump on the night with a miraculous three pointer off the glass as the shot clock hit zero. Langborg then hit his fifth three on Northwestern’s next possession, and the ‘Cats suddenly went on a 9-0 run to take a 52-47 lead after a slow start to the second half. Barnhizer drew a shooting foul with Northwestern holding on to a 54-49 lead at the second media timeout.
Out of the timeout, Barnhizer hit 1-for-2 from the free throw line, but he got his own rebound off a tip and got back to the line, where he again made one free throw to push the lead to seven points. A Cardet Jr. and-one cut the lead back down to four, but Barnhizer responded with a layup to keep Northwestern ahead by a score of 58-52.
Northwestern led 61-54 after Langborg knocked down a free throw with 7:35 left in the game. The Cougars didn’t go away easily, and after an 11-0 run, Chicago State led 65-61 with just under five minutes left, as Northwestern went on a five-minute field goal drought.
Nicholson came back into the game and immediately contributed with a dunk that cut the lead down to 65-63 at the final media timeout. Buie drove to the cup and got a runner up and in to tie the game at 65 with three minutes left, before he got near the same spot in the lane, stopped on a dime, and hit a floater to give Northwestern a 67-65 lead with 2:20 on the clock.
Chicago State had one more response left though. Cardet Jr. went on a personal 5-0 run to reach a whopping 30 points on the night and give the Cougars a 70-67 lead. Buie hit two free throws to cut the lead back down to one, and Barnhizer forced a turnover by Cardet Jr. with under a minute left.
Buie missed a floater with a chance to take the lead, and Chicago State knocked down both free throws to extend the lead to 72-69. Buie attacked the paint and found Berry for an open three, but the attempt came up short, and Chicago State knocked down both free throws again to take a 74-69 lead. Afterward, CSU and Northwestern traded free throws and quick baskets, but the Cougars inbounded successfully with .9 left and eventually walked away with the 75-73 victory.
Northwestern will look to bounce back on Saturday night when the ‘Cats take on DePaul on the road at 4:30 p.m. CT.