Men’s Basketball: Northwestern blows past No. 25 Maryland and into Big Ten Tournament semifinals


Daily file photo by Rachel Dubner

Scottie Lindsey looks toward the hoop. The junior guard scored 17 points in Northwestern’s win over No. 25 Maryland.

Tim Balk, Managing Editor

Men’s Basketball

As it careens toward its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, Northwestern seems to have little interest in taking its foot off the gas.

Instead, the Wildcats (23-10, 10-8 Big Ten) continued to make history Friday night, blowing past No. 25 Maryland (24-8, 12-6) 72-64 in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinal, adding onto their program-record win total and putting themselves in the conference tournament semifinals for the first time ever.

“I don’t really think that we realize what we’re doing right now,” junior guard Scottie Lindsey said. “After the season, a couple years down the road, we’ll realize what we’ve done, what we’ve accomplished.”

NU benefitted from strong performances from each of its three top scorers. Lindsey and sophomore forward Vic Law each pitched in 17 points, while junior guard Bryant McIntosh poured in 16 and dished out six assists. All three connected on at least half of their shots, and Law missed just a pair of field goals.

After sputtering offensively throughout February, as illness and back problems derailed Lindsey and an extended shooting slump afflicted Law, the Cats appear to have rediscovered their scoring prowess.

“We are playing well at the right time,” McIntosh said. “We are really clicking on all cylinders, and it is a special thing we have going on right now.”

NU didn’t clear 70 points once in February, losing to Maryland by 10 at home midway through the month. But it poured in 83 in a rout of Rutgers on Thursday in its first outing of the tournament, and then put forth another strong effort against Maryland. The Cats knocked in a season-high 60 percent of their shots against the Scarlet Knights, and approached that clip against the Terrapins, going 55 percent from the field.

At one point in the first half against Maryland, the Cats scored on seven straight field goals, including a 3-pointer from the top of the key that Lindsey banked off the glass. The stretch helped push NU out to an early 10-point lead, but foul trouble for Law and Lindsey compacted with untimely turnovers led to a late first-half drought for the Cats.

NU continued to reel early in the second, with Maryland turning a 2-point halftime lead into a 10-point advantage with 16:25 remaining. But a 3 from McIntosh opened up a 20-2 run for the Cats that turned the game on its head and gave NU an 8-point lead. The Cats never relinquished their advantage down the stretch, as Lindsey, Law and McIntosh continued to lead the way.

NU has won three out of four since the calendar turned to March, with the one loss coming in respectable fashion to conference-leader Purdue to close the regular season. In each of the three wins, NU hit on at least half its shots — the Cats also went 27-of-51 from the field in their thrilling win over Michigan.

Next, NU will face No. 24 Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon with a visit to the Big Ten Tournament title game on the line.

“We have to kick it up a notch defensively and offensively to beat them,” junior forward Gavin Skelly said of the Badgers. “They’re a good team, but they’re definitely beatable.”

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