Men’s Basketball: Northwestern crumbles in final minutes in loss to Ohio State


Zack Laurence/The Daily Northwestern

Scottie Lindsey fights for a loose ball near the corner. Lindsey and the Cats struggled with takeaways against Ohio State, only recording two steals.

Ben Pope, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

A once-promising opportunity for a statement home win dissipated quickly for Northwestern on Wednesday as they faded late in a 65-56 loss to Ohio State.

The Wildcats (13-3, 1-2 Big Ten) were outscored 14-6 over the game’s final six minutes, fittingly ending a night in which NU shot just 31.3 percent from the field and dropped its second consecutive Big Ten contest in front of raucous Welsh-Ryan Arena crowds.

Guard Kam Williams took over in the second half for the Buckeyes (11-5, 3-0), scoring 13 of his team-leading 21 points after the break as his team shut down NU on the opposite end of the floor.

“It was kind of a funky game,” coach Chris Collins said. “Neither team could really get any going offensively for much of the night. … When we got open looks, I thought we missed them.”

The majority of the first half resulted in more 3-point woes for the Cats, who missed their first 11 attempts from deep after hitting just 2-of-20 in Saturday’s loss to Maryland. With 4:10 left until halftime, a fast-break dunk by Ohio State’s Marc Loving capped off a 14-2 run, aided by poor shooting by NU, which gave the visitors a 26-17 lead.

Sophomore forward Gavin Skelly, however, broke the Buckeyes’ run with a pair of lay-up finishes, and Ohio State did not score again for the remainder of the opening frame.

In the closing minutes of the half, NU finally snapped its 3-point slump as senior guard Tre Demps and junior forward Nathan Taphorn connected from deep, sending the crowd of 7,439 into a frenzy and giving the home team a 27-26 edge at the break.

But in the second half, a pair of Williams 3-pointers gave Ohio State a 40-36 advantage with 12:49 to play, and the Cats would never reclaim the lead.

After a basket and free throw by sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh pulled NU within 2 points with 7:09 to play, Buckeyes center Trevor Thompson turned in 6 points and 2 rebounds in the ensuing three-minute span to help Ohio State begin to pull away.

“That’s when you’ve got to win or lose the game,” Collins said of the moments following McIntosh’s big play. “Ohio State, from that point on, just really outplayed us on both ends.”

Buckeyes forward Jae’Sean Tate’s layup with exactly 3:00 remaining proved to be the dagger, providing the visitors with a 62-53 lead.

Demps converted just 3-of-17 shots for NU, committing four fouls in the process, while matching his lowest-scoring game of the season. His struggles were indicative of the entire team, which shot at by far its lowest percentage yet this year.

“Without (injured senior center Alex) Olah, it’s tough,” said McIntosh, whose 15 points made him the only Cats player to reach double-digits. “Tre and I are asked to a little bit more as far as scoring. Teams are trying to take us away and they’re doing a good job of it.”

NU has made just 17.8 percent of its 3-point attempts and 34.1 percent of all field goal attempts in its past two games after shooting at 39.1 percent and 48.8 percent rates, respectively, in its program-best 13-1 start to the season.

“They were really trying to take the 3-point line away, so you’ve got to drive the ball. And when you do drive the ball, you’ve got to score. Collectively, we can talk a lot about the 3-point shooting and it’s a big part of what we do, but (in terms of) offense as a whole, we just have to convert better,” Collins said.

This post was updated at 11:33 with quotes from Chris Collins and Bryant McIntosh.

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Bryant McIntosh. The Daily regrets the error.

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