Another top-10 opponent visiting Evanston, and another Wildcat victory.
Northwestern (14-5, 5-3 B1G) moved to 10-1 at home after a stellar overtime 96-91 win over No. 10 Illinois (14-5, 5-3 B1G) that nearly shook Welsh-Ryan Arena from its foundation.
For the Wildcats, Boo Buie led the way with 29 points. Brooks Barnhizer added 23, while Ty Berry had 14 in the second half.
As for the visiting Illini, Marcus Domask did the heavy lifting with 22 points and 6 assists. Coleman Hawkins chipped in with a double-double featuring 22 points and 13 rebounds.
After Matthew Nicholson won the jump, there were two scoreless possessions until a Nicholson dunk. The good defense continued but Hawkins finally ended the drought with a layup. Terrence Shannon Jr. scored his first two of the game, but Buie responded with a floater on the possession after, making it a 4-4 game. After Ty Rodgers converted two, Buie came back with another tough finish.
Out of the timeout, Domask finished a hook shot. Buie made a nice pass to Nicholson who slammed home another tying it at 8-8. Blake Preston had an early appearance and scored promptly. Ryan Langborg put in a floater, and the score was 12-9. Following a few scores by Rodgers and Buie, Luke Goode knocked in back-to-back triples and the Illini had a 17-14 lead heading into the under-12.
While Northwestern continued to have a hard time securing the defensive rebound, Illinois already had eight offensive board, Nick Martinelli made his patented hook shot out of the break. Both teams struggled to put the ball in the hoop, but the Illini maintained an 18-16 advantage with 7:44 remaining in the opening half.
Martinelli spun in another two coming out of the break. Quincy Guerrier continued the trend of offensive rebounds, tipping in a putback. Barnhizer finally got in the scoring column after an 0-for-4 start, making a midrange. Domask responded with a two of his own, but Martinelli converted a deep two to bring the Illini lead down to three. Then, Barnhizer nailed a three and the ‘Cats tied the game, but Hawkins made a putback, leading to Illinois getting back in front. It sat 29-27 at the under-4.
Domask made a three out of the dead ball; however, Barnhizer finished an and-one. After missing the free throw, Preston got the rebound and made one of two free throws. Following a good stop, Buie floated in two and proceeded to make a heroic lay-in for a 34-32 ‘Cats halftime lead.
Buie had a phenomenal first frame, shooting 6-for-10 with 12 points. As a team, Northwestern shot 53.3% but only made one three. On the Illinois side, the team’s leading scoring was Domask with seven. The Illini controlled the glass, though, with 24 rebounds and 11 offensive. Northwestern, in comparison, only had 13 rebounds and one on the offensive glass. Surprisingly, Ty Berry and Ryan Langborg only combined for two points in the first 20 minutes, and Berry didn’t attempt a shot. Even with many things going against them though, the ‘Cats still were able to claim the halftime lead.
Following the halftime intermission, Guerrier connected on a corner three, but Langborg came back with a three of his own. There were a few scoreless possessions until Domask nailed a three, and Barnhizer made a contested midrange. Barnhizer continued his good play with a layup to make it a 41-41 game. Berry made a three on his first attempt, which gave NU a 44-43 lead. After a great save and timeout by Langborg, Berry connected on a midrange on the set play to reach the under-16.
After the full timeout, Hawkins made a layup and Berry responded with a three, but Guerrier nailed a corner trey to make it 49-48 Northwestern. Langborg then sank a driving layup; however, the Illini finished another putback. Barnhizer knocked in a top of the key three to bring the crowd into a frenzy. No. 13 converted on another triple, and the lead was 57-53. Yet, Domask finished a tough two to tie the game at 57-57 going into the under-12.
Out of the timeout, Berry drew a foul and made one of two free throws. Buie put in a tough lay-up to increase the lead to three. After a few empty possessions, Shannon went up for a thunderous dunk and got up gingerly following a Berry flagrant foul. The ‘Cats were up 60-57 with 7:48 remaining.
Shannon converted both after the stoppage of play. The ‘Cats allowed another offensive rebound, leading to two free throws from Goode and a 61-60 Illini lead. Domask seemed to have gotten away with an offensive foul and scored an and-one, but Buie silenced the Illini faithful with five quick ones. Hawkins responded and knocked in a three of his own.
The back-and-forth continued with a Nicholson and Domask trading dunks. Berry kept the scoring going with a corner triple, and Buie floated in two more. But, Shannon countered with a tough three to tie it at 72-72. Justin Harmon committed a foul, and the game was deadlocked with 2:51 left in the contest.
Nicholson made a soaring dunk out of the stoppage, and the ‘Cats secured the defensive rebound after many offensive outback chances for the Illini. Following a Nicholson foul, Hawkins sank two free throws. Harmon put in a runner, and Illinois took a two-point lead with 36 seconds remaining. Northwestern called a timeout trailing 76-74.
Buie drove past Shannon out of the TO, and after a great head fake, tied the game with a layup. Domask missed a game-winning midrange look, and the two teams headed into overtime with the score 76-76.
In the extra period, the ‘Cats got a stop on the opening possession, but Barnhizer airballed a jumper handing the ball back to Illinois. Buie made a cold-blooded three to give the ‘Cats a three point lead, and Barnhizer connected on an and-one three to lead to an Illini timeout with Northwestern up six.
Barnhizer nailed the free throw to put NU up seven. After a turnover and a Buie missed layup, Nicholson put in a putback to bring the lead to 85-76. Hawkins responded with a goaltended lay-in. Buie sank another three to bring the lead to ten; however, Langborg fouled Guerrier on a corner trey. Luckily for the ‘Cats, Guerrier only made two.
Nicholson sent in a two-hander but fouled Guerrier on yet another three. That led to Nicholson taking a seat with five fouls as Guerrier converted two of three. Buie got fouled on the next possession and calmly sank both. Shannon came back with two more, but it was looking bleak for the Illini. Langborg was fouled and missed the first, but Berry stripped Shannon and nailed both free throws.
From then on, Northwestern continued to make its free throws and secured a 96-91 win.
The ‘Cats will be back in action on Saturday against Ohio State. The game is set for 7:30 p.m. CT and will be broadcast on Big Ten Network.