Men’s Basketball: Northwestern hangs with Ohio State, falls late


Meghan White/Daily Senior Staffer

Sophomore guard Dave Sobolewski attempts a jump shot. The Wildcats fell 63-53 to Ohio State on Thursday night.

Ava Wallace, Assistant Sports Editor

It turns out the nickname “Cardiac Cats” applies to two of Northwestern’s teams.

Although the Wildcats (13-16, 4-12 Big Ten) were never in danger of losing a lead in the fourth quarter as this past season’s football team was at times apt to do, NU had a 1-point lead two different times in the second half against No. 16 Ohio State (21-7, 11-5) after starting the period with a 7-point deficit. The team also brought fans at Welsh-Ryan to their feet multiple times during the half with some crucial shots, such as the 3-pointer freshman forward Kale Abrahamson sunk with one second left on the shot clock to give NU its first lead of the game with just over 10 minutes left.

Still, the Buckeyes were able to hold on to the lead they captured with just four minutes left and defeated the Cats 63-53 to beat NU for the second time this season. Despite the Cats’ second half spark, the team had 15 turnovers — nine during the second half alone — off of which Ohio State scored 18 points for the game.

Coach Bill Carmody said turnovers were what cost his team the game more than anything else.

“Turnovers in the second half — they really hurt,” Carmody said. “We had six in the first half, and we wanted not to get 10. But 15 … really makes a difference because they didn’t really kill us off the backboards. I thought we did a pretty decent job on the glass, and for the most part we were getting the shots that we wanted, but when you have nine turnovers in a half, that hurts you.”

In addition to the high number of turnovers, NU had trouble putting plays together and finding answers on defense for Ohio State’s Lenzelle Smith Jr.,  who led his team with 24 points, and Deshaun Thomas, who scored 19 points. 

An aggressive Buckeyes defense also caused trouble for the Cats. Players like Aaron Craft kept usual offensive leader senior guard Reggie Hearn to just 8 points, the second-least amongst NU starters. 

Nonetheless, this was NU’s most competitive game in its now six-game losing streak.

Much like the first time they met the Buckeyes in Columbus, Ohio, just two weeks ago, the Cats were able to keep up with their opponent save for a stretch of time in the first half during which NU did not make its shots. The team had a nearly 15-minute spell during which they did not score a single 2-point field goal. 

But NU matched Ohio State in rebounds — each team had 30 for the game — and out-shot them in both 3-point shots and free throws. The Cats shot 42.1 percent and 100 percent in those respective categories. The Buckeyes made 36.4 percent of their 3-point shots and only 56.5 percent of their free throws.

Sophomore guard Dave Sobolewski attributed the close game to his team’s relatively good start. In Sunday’s game against Purdue, NU trailed the Boilermakers by 15 points after just 10 minutes. 

The Cats trailed the Buckeyes by 9 points after 10 minutes, but Ohio State’s lead shrunk from there.

“We were down 10 probably within the first 10 or 12 minutes. The good thing is we didn’t let it spiral out of hand,” Sobolewski said. “We kept (the deficit) under 10, and whenever a game is under 10, you never know what can happen. We hit some good shots, we defended, we rebounded, and it just went from there.”

As they did the first time the two teams met earlier this season, both Abrahamson and freshman guard Tre Demps stepped up to fill Hearn’s shoes on offensive. Demps led NU in scoring, with 14 points, and Abrahamson led the team in rebounds, with nine for the game.

Sobolewski was second on the squad for most points, with 13, and made three 3-pointers throughout the night. He said he was pleased with the way his team fought just as fiercely as they did the first time around, but a second-half battle was not enough for him.

“It was a lot of fun to play in a competitive game, but that’s not what we play for,” Sobolewski said. “I think we played … a lot better tonight than we have been, but we didn’t win.”