Men’s Basketball: Northwestern falls at Butler on last-second shot


Daily file photo by Katie Pach

Dererk Pardon battles up a shot inside. The sophomore center fouled out late in Northwestern’s 70-68 loss at Butler on Wednesday.

Max Schuman, Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

Northwestern’s 2016-17 schedule includes more non-conference tests, as the team looks to earn the signature wins that it lacked last season. When the Wildcats took a 60-54 lead with just under six minutes left in Wednesday’s game against Butler, it seemed like they were going to pass the first of those tests.

Instead, the Bulldogs (2-0) surged back, and guard Kamar Baldwin hit a stepback jumper over junior forward Gavin Skelly with under a second remaining to sink NU (2-1), 70-68.

“I thought we played his tendencies well … Gavin did a good job, he jumped on his left hand,” coach Chris Collins said. “The kid made a really good shot stepping back, going to his right.”

Sophomore forward Vic Law led the Cats with 17 points, and the team as a whole shot an efficient 48 percent from the floor. But NU turned the ball over 16 times, giving Butler a chance to complete a late comeback.

The Cats got out to a 32-29 halftime lead, combining good shooting with strong defense. Law led all first-half scorers with 9 points, hitting 3-of-3 attempts from 3 to stretch the floor.

But Butler hung in the game by controlling the glass, taking advantage of a thin and undersized NU front line. The Bulldogs shot just 31.4 percent from the field and 2-of-13 from 3 in the first half, but pulled in nine offensive boards to create enough chances to keep things close.

Butler picked up the pace offensively at the start of the second half, as forward Kelan Martin scored 8 of his game-high 22 points before the frame’s under-16 timeout.

“(Martin) is an incredible scorer,” Collins said. “ He made some big shots, especially early in the second half when they needed it.”

The Cats adjusted and took advantage of the rock-solid defense of Law, junior guard Scottie Lindsey and senior forward Sanjay Lumpkin to lock down Martin as the game went on, holding him to just 4 points in the last 14:35 of the game.

Meanwhile, NU continued to shoot well, hitting 50 percent from the field in the second half and knocking down 5-of-10 shots from behind the arc as a team. Butler countered by drawing fouls on the Cats inside, earning 15 second-half free throw attempts.

With the game tied at 68 with less than a minute left, NU had the ball with a chance to take the lead. But Collins said the Bulldogs shut down the Cats’ initial action, and junior guard Bryant McIntosh, who scored 12 points but committed five turnovers in the game, lost the ball to Baldwin as he tried to manufacture a chance late in the shot clock.

“We were trying to go for a quick two-for-one, we wanted to get in something quickly,” Collins said. “They got a stop when they needed to, and we didn’t.”

That turnover set up the Baldwin’s game-winning pull-up shot on the next possession, handing NU its first loss of the season.

The Cats came up just short on the road against a team that made the NCAA Tournament last year, but Law said that’s no consolation.

“I’m tired of moral victories,” he said. “‘They’re close, the lovable Wildcats,’ whatever. We wanted to win.”

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