Rapid Recap: Northwestern 67, Michigan 65


Rachel Dubner/Daily Senior Staffer

Scottie Lindsey dribbles past a defender. The Wildcats held off Michigan at home to earn the program's first-ever 21st regular season win.

Garrett Jochnau, Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

With its tournament hopes hanging in the balance, Northwestern badly needed a win. On Wednesday, it got just that.

Sophomore center Dererk Pardon hit a layup as time expired to lift the Wildcats ahead 67-65, ushering the Welsh-Ryan crowd onto the court as NU snapped a two-game skid.

Junior guard Bryant McIntosh finished the game with 13 points and five assists, and sophomore forward Vic Law added 18 points as the Cats avenged last year’s overtime loss to the Wolverines in the Big Ten Tournament.

NU has struggled with slow starts as of late, but began Wednesday’s contest with 6 straight points before Michigan got on the board. Law, who entered the game in a slump, rattled off a quick pair of buckets as the Cats took initial control.

But the Wolverines answered with 7 straight and traded shots with NU until junior guard Bryant McIntosh spearheaded a run that lifted the Cats ahead 11 with 3:54 remaining. Even so, Michigan continued to attack and cut the deficit to 2 by halftime.

After the break, NU went back and forth with the visitors, eventually conceding the lead briefly with under 13 minutes remaining. From there, the two battled, entering the final minute tied at 65.

And after McIntosh and Michigan’s Zak Irvin missed go-ahead baskets, the game looked headed to overtime.

But Pardon delivered off a full-court pass from senior forward Nathan Taphorn, securing the win and all-but punching the Cats’ ticket to the Big Dance in the process.


1. Vic Law comes alive

Before Wednesday, Law had shot 22.7 percent in his previous eight contests. NU’s offense predictably suffered without consistent contributions from a key player.

But against the Wolverines, Law finally found a rhythm, scoring 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting. He opened with 4 of the Cats’ first 6 points, finding easy looks inside. Later, he added a pair of big 3s.

McIntosh needed a partner-in-crime after shouldering an immense burden recently, and Law stepped up, adding a necessary scoring punch in the win.

2. The bench makes an impact

On Tuesday, McIntosh expressed his frustration with NU’s lack of bench production. The Cats’ second unit is still far from elite, but the team found a few sparks from its reserve pool on Wednesday.

Freshman center Barret Benson saw extended minutes with sophomore center Dererk Pardon in early foul trouble and Benson ultimately delivered what might have been the best showing of his young career. The freshman scored four points and tallied three rebounds and a block in the first period, keeping the Cats afloat without Pardon.

Junior forward Gavin Skelly also added a pair of important first-half buckets, Taphorn connected on a timely 3 in the second period and threw the beautiful assist to Pardon that clinched the win.

3. This looks like the year for Northwestern

Just like that, the Cats are clawing at the door.

There’s a feeling in Evanston that 21 wins would be enough for NU to secure its first-ever NCAA Tournament bid, and after Wednesday they have just that.

The Cats still have Sunday’s matchup with Purdue and the conference tournament to bolster their resume, but after taking down Michigan — a likely tournament-bound team — NU is in good shape with Selection Sunday drawing near.

– Pardon: 9 points, 8 rebounds
– Isiah Brown: DNP
– Lindsey: 9 points, 2-of-6 shooting

Email: garrettjochnau2019@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @GarrettJochnau