Men’s Basketball: Northwestern falters late, falls to Buckeyes 71-63


Daily file photo by Jacob Swan

Tre Demps leaps toward the basket. The senior guard turned the ball over a game-high four times.

Garrett Jochnau, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Recent history has shown that when Northwestern’s shots are falling, victories follow in suit. But in Columbus on Tuesday, the Wildcats found themselves empty-handed against Ohio State despite shooting 12-of-27 from long range.

Losing 71-63, NU (16-9, 4-8 Big Ten) saw its postseason hopes dwindle further as Ohio State (15-10, 7-5) completed a season sweep of the Cats.

Through much of the game, NU held a steady lead. In the opening minutes, senior guard Tre Demps and sophomore guard Bryant McIntosh once again proved that when operating in full force together, the two can carry the Cats to new heights. A rejuvenated Demps opened the night with an end-of-the shot clock 3-pointer, ultimately finishing with 14 points on 3-of-7 3-point shooting.

“This game, I thought we did a much better job of getting (into the paint) and then kicking out, which is why we got a lot of great looks from 3, and we made them,” coach Chris Collins said. “When we have good looks, we’re a good shooting team.”

McIntosh, who also tallied 14 on the night, found himself with a pair of early 3s, and when his scoring dried up toward the end of the opening half, he and senior center Alex Olah — who totaled 11 points and 9 rebounds — found a rhythm that propelled NU’s lead into the break, 33-26.

But the Buckeyes entered the second half with added energy after McIntosh opened again with a pair of scores from beyond the arc. A 7-0 Ohio State run, ended by 5-straight points from sophomore guard Scottie Lindsey was later followed by an 8-0 run that brought the Buckeyes within 1.

“We were forcing them to take the shots we wanted them to take, we were taking their shooters out, we were guarding pretty good,” Demps said. “I think in the second half they just started driving us more… and I think that gave them a lot of confidence.”

Soon after, a 3 from junior Marc Loving and an NU half-court violation — brought about by the defensive pressure that characterized Ohio State’s second-half effort and helped force 14 NU turnovers — set up a jumper from sophomore Keita Bates-Diop that gave the Buckeyes their first lead since the opening minutes.

Even as NU continued to find success from deep as Demps and Lindsey both made late 3s to keep the visitors alive, turnovers brought about by Ohio State’s zone press killed any chance of the Cats leaving Columbus with their first win since 1977.

“We just never stopped the bleeding,” Demps said. “You need to go on a run yourself, you’ve got to follow their run with a run of your own. And we would make a basket here and there, but overall, they were scoring 6 points to our 2 points and that added up.”

After watching a winnable contest slip through their fingers, the Cats are learning that even with shots falling, consistency elsewhere is needed to emerge victorious.

“When you have a chance like that to steal game on the road in this league, you’ve got to finish the deal,” Collins said. “And we weren’t able to do that.”

This post was updated with postgame quotes.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @GarrettJochnau