Men’s Basketball: Rowley sparks Wildcats in comeback victory

Matt Forman

Trailing 40-29 with 18:09 remaining in the game, Northwestern was looking for an answer.

It found one in freshman center Kyle Rowley.

“Anytime we can get the ball into Rowley and he doesn’t walk, something good is going to happen,” coach Bill Carmody said.

As sophomore guard Michael Thompson pushed the ball up the court, he delivered a pass into the post for Rowley. The 7-foot big man pump-faked to the middle, turned baseline and hit a left-handed bank shot off the glass while getting fouled by Ohio State’s Evan Turner.

“My assistants just said to throw it down to Kyle and see what happens,” Carmody said. “They were playing real hard on the perimeter, so it was open down there.”

That was just the beginning of good things to come for the Wildcats. After Rowley’s turnaround layup and the ensuing free throw, the floodgates opened for NU and its bench players.

The Cats’ Big Three – Thompson, senior guard Craig Moore and junior forward Kevin Coble – scored all 28 of the Cats’ points in the first half. All other players combined to shoot 0-for-7. Sparked by Rowley, NU’s supporting cast scored 20 points on 8-of-16 from the floor after intermission.

The added scoring led the Cats on a 21-3 run that turned a 12-point halftime deficit early in the second half into a six-point lead with 10 minutes remaining in the game.

After Rowley’s basket, junior guard Jeremy Nash drove baseline and hit a reverse layup to bring the game within seven.

On the Cats’ next possession, freshman forward John Shurna hit an off-balance layup off the top of the backboard as he fell to the floor. He added a free throw to make the score 40-36.

“In the first half Kevin and Craig made a lot of shots,” Shurna said. “We knew we either had to find them or step up.”

As the role players helped build the lead, the go-to guys helped put the game away. Moore and Coble hit a combined four 3-pointers in the final six minutes before Shurna hit the game-winner with 3.3 seconds remaining.

But it all started with Rowley. After NU scored eight points in the paint in the opening period, it pounded the ball inside for 16 in the second half. Rowley went 3-of-8 from the floor to score seven points.

“Kyle coming through like that picks some guys up,” Carmody said. “I think it’s true that Kyle just did something in there that picked guys up.”

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