Men’s Basketball: On precipice of history, Northwestern finds heartbreak

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Men’s Basketball: On precipice of history, Northwestern finds heartbreak

Bryant McIntosh attempts a game-winner. The junior guard's miracle heave bounced off the rim Saturday as the Wildcats lost a heartbreaker in Indiana.

Bryant McIntosh attempts a game-winner. The junior guard's miracle heave bounced off the rim Saturday as the Wildcats lost a heartbreaker in Indiana.

Rachel Dubner/Daily Senior Staffer

Bryant McIntosh attempts a game-winner. The junior guard's miracle heave bounced off the rim Saturday as the Wildcats lost a heartbreaker in Indiana.

Rachel Dubner/Daily Senior Staffer

Rachel Dubner/Daily Senior Staffer

Bryant McIntosh attempts a game-winner. The junior guard's miracle heave bounced off the rim Saturday as the Wildcats lost a heartbreaker in Indiana.

Ben Pope, Reporter

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Men’s Basketball


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — On Saturday, bounces broke Northwestern’s heart.

Indiana guard Devonte Green’s halftime heave bounced off the backboard and in. Hoosiers center Thomas Bryant’s game-winning free throw for Indiana bounced all around the rim and in. Bryant McIntosh’s potential buzzer-beater for Northwestern bounced off the rim and out.

And after all the bounces, after blowing and regaining and again blowing the lead in a devastating 63-62 loss to Indiana (16-13, 6-10 Big Ten), the Wildcats (20-9, 9-7) grieved.

“We’re heartbroken,” McIntosh said. “It’s a tough one to swallow. You have the lead and kind of dominate the entire second half … and then to just let it slip away is heartbreaking.”

The junior guard and the rest of his team, however, could’ve easily been celebrating a historic 21st win had just one more thing gone their way.

For much of the night, the rim seemed to favor the home team, including on Bryant’s shot from the charity stripe with 2.6 seconds left that ricocheted off the back of the rim, then the front, then swished through twine.

Bryant’s free throw would have merely tied the game if not for a first-half scoring correction that switched an Indiana shot taken minutes before from a 2 to a 3. And it would not have meant anything had Green not somehow made a half-court chuck toward the basket at the first half’s conclusion — a prayer customarily taken but rarely answered.

NU was far from perfect. During Indiana’s 22-0 first-half run, the Cats’ shot selection was terrible. For the game’s final play, NU bungled getting the correct five players on the floor.

The Cats still put together what coach Chris Collins said was their best performance in several games and nonetheless lost, leaving Bloomington heavy-hearted with their NCAA Tournament hopes unresolved for another day.

“When you put your heart into something, you lay it on the line for 40 minutes, and you battle and you come up short like that, it hurts,” Collins said. “Our guys are hurting right now. I want them to hurt.”

It would be a sad but remarkable story if two 18-inch circles of orange-colored aluminum in Bloomington, Indiana — and a few unfortunate bounces off of them — proved to be the force that pushed NU’s tournament drought into a 79th year.

Unfortunately, Saturday’s result sets up that possibility.

Fortunately, the Cats still have two regular season chances left — Wednesday against Michigan and Sunday against Purdue — to ensure that story is never written.

“You cry together when you have tough losses, and then you pick up the pieces and you go to work the next day,” Collins said. “Until somebody tells me I don’t have any more games … we’re going to keep fighting.”

Email: benjaminpope2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @benpope111

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