Men’s Basketball: Northwestern suffers gut-wrenching loss to Indiana


Rachel Dubner/Daily Senior Staffer

Bryant McIntosh attempts a layup. The junior guard’s 22 points weren’t enough for Northwestern in its loss to Indiana on Saturday.

Tim Balk, Managing Editor

Men’s Basketball

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Anyone looking to prove that basketball is a game of runs need look no further than Northwestern’s game at Indiana for proof. In the end, the Wildcats were on the wrong side of the wrong run Saturday.

Indiana (16-13, 6-10 Big Ten) scored the final 8 points in its 63-62 win, giving a suddenly reeling NU (20-9, 9-7) team a heartbreaking loss. The Cats led by double-digits early, but surrendered 22 unanswered points before halftime, and then responded by dominating most of the second half before the Hoosiers’ final push.

“It’s part of basketball,” coach Chris Collins said. “Teams go on runs. The thing with us is we’ve had scoring droughts at times.”

The offensively anemic Cats have gone eight straight games without hitting 70 points. And as NU finished the final three minutes against the Hoosiers without a field goal, the recurrent offensive struggles did the squad in.

Junior guard Bryant McIntosh, who posted a team-high 22 points, nearly saved the Cats when he launched a last-second shot from half-court that rimmed out. Collins thought the shot was good out of his hand. McIntosh did too.

“It felt great coming out of my hand,” McIntosh said. “Unfortunate.”

Had the shot fallen, it would have given the game a certain symmetry. Indiana’s Devonte Green hit a half-court prayer before halftime, punctuating the Hoosiers’ 22-0 run.

The Cats still silenced the crowd of 17,222 at Assembly Hall numerous times, including an 18-3 first-half run. During that stretch, McIntosh went coast-to-coast off a defensive rebound and for a quick score, and junior guard Scottie Lindsey put in a pair of fastbreak slams.

Lindsey had his best game since returning a week ago from an illness that sidelined him for four contests. He finished with 13 points, showing some of the scoring pop that made him the Cats’ leading scorer before he got sick.

Then came Indiana’s backbreaking run, but the Cats responded well out of halftime.

“They hit us with a blitz there at the end of the half,” Collins said. “We came into the locker room, and we regained our poise. We didn’t panic.”

Instead, with McIntosh shining on offense and the Cats locking in defensively, NU went on a 20-5 run and took a 7-point lead with eight minutes to play. They held onto that lead until the 3:11 mark, when McIntosh hit his final 3.

Then things fell apart.

The Cats’ offensive well dried and Indiana made a final push, punctuated by a 3-pointer from guard James Blackmon and a 3-point play from center Thomas Bryant. On Blackmon’s 3, McIntosh said the Cats’ defense “fell asleep.”

“It’s a tough game all the way across,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “(Blackmon) hit a big shot. James is a shot maker … we were just right there. A couple stops away from being right where we needed to be.”

The Hoosiers stuck around and eventually pulled it out. Collins said he thought NU played the best game it has in about “five or six” contests. But in the end of a wild back-and-forth barnburner, the Cats still couldn’t pull out a victory that would have boosted their NCAA Tournament hopes.

“We fought,” Collins said. “At the end of the day, we just didn’t finish the game in the last two minutes.”

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