Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

75° Evanston, IL
Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Men’s Basketball: Michael Thompson leads Wildcats to victory over Illinois

Michael Thompson would not be denied.

As the Illini slowly chipped away at a 12-point second half lead, Northwestern’s senior leader kept the Wildcats ahead, nailing a trio of clutch three-pointers in the final six minutes. After weathering several scares in the final 50 seconds of play, NU pulled out a 71-70 victory over Illinois, a much-needed win after three consecutive losses.

“We’ve lost some tough games in conference,” coach Bill Carmody said. “So it was just really nice for us to get a signature victory here.”

Carmody used a similar game plan to the one that helped NU (14-8, 4-7 Big Ten) come within one point of top-ranked Ohio State. The Cats played long, extended possessions, looking to shoot the ball with 10 seconds or less on the shot clock. NU’s slow attack, and it’s penchant to connect on timely shots, kept Illinois (15-8, 5-5) at bay for most of the game.

The Cats jumped out to a nine-point lead thanks to stellar shooting from sophomore forward Drew Crawford and freshman guard JerShon Cobb. Eventually the Cats cooled off, and Illinois managed to draw even with NU one minute before halftime. But sloppy play on the part of the Illini-a turnover with 37 seconds left and a foul with no time left on the shot clock-allowed the Cats to take a six-point lead into the locker room.

The second half was more of a back-and-forth affair, with both teams making runs. Still, when it mattered most, the Cats converted. In the middle of the second half NU went five minutes without a bucket, but over the final six minutes of the game the Cats responded to all of the Illini’s advances. NU went 7-for-8 from the charity stripe in the final 85 seconds, and Luka Mirkovic’s free throw with six seconds remaining gave the Cats an insurmountable four-point lead.

NU will look to continue its recent resurgence Wednesday when the Cats visit Michigan.

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Men’s Basketball: Michael Thompson leads Wildcats to victory over Illinois