Men’s Basketball: Missed opportunities doomed final minutes

Matt Forman

Among the many frustrated and disappointed Northwestern fans, athletic director Jim Phillips’ expression said it all.

As an official signaled for a foul with 8.2 seconds remaining, Phillips stood motionless.

How did they let this one slip away?

A shocked Phillips was responding to the foul on sophomore guard Michael Thompson. As the ball was thrown inside, Thompson tried to support in the post as Purdue forward JaJuan Thompson started backing towards the basket. Thompson was whistled for a reach-in foul.

Just eight minutes prior, the Wildcats led by eight, 51-43. Now, as Johnson stepped to the line, the score was tied at 61.

Johnson sunk both shots from the line, extending the final margin to 63-61. But the foul call was only the culminating event in a series of devastating turns in the waning minutes. In the last 6:50 of the contest, the Cats were outscored 20-7.

In the final eight minutes of the game, NU made five trips to the charity stripe with the Boilermakers in the double-bonus. Each time, the fouled player converted the first of two attempts. Each time, they missed the second. In the same span, the Cats found themselves within a finger’s length of the basket six times. On five of those layup opportunities NU failed to finish the shot. The team also had one layup attempt blocked and one stripped en route to the basket.

“We missed too many layups and too many foul shots to salt the game away,” coach Bill Carmody said.

The Cats also had 14 shots blocked, seven by Johnson, and committed eight turnovers.

Still, the devastating defeat came down to not converting scoring opportunities in the form of layups and free throws into points on the scoreboard.

“It was real frustrating,” junior forward Kevin Coble said. “You can pin (the loss) to those two things.”

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