The Daily Northwestern

Rapid Recap: Rutgers 67, Northwestern 58 (OT)

Dererk+Pardon+goes+up+for+a+layup.+The+Wildcats+loss+Tuesday+against+Rutgers+despite+Pardon%27s+solid+first+half.
Dererk Pardon goes up for a layup. The Wildcats loss Tuesday against Rutgers despite Pardon's solid first half.

Dererk Pardon goes up for a layup. The Wildcats loss Tuesday against Rutgers despite Pardon's solid first half.

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

Dererk Pardon goes up for a layup. The Wildcats loss Tuesday against Rutgers despite Pardon's solid first half.

Joseph Wilkinson, Sports Editor

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Coming off a depressing loss at Maryland, Northwestern learned that things could actually get worse as it suffered its first-ever conference loss against lowly Rutgers, 67-58 in overtime.

Senior guard Bryant McIntosh missed the entire second half and overtime with an injury to his right arm.

Forward Issa Thiam buried an open 3-pointer with just over two minutes remaining in overtime to give the hosts their first lead of the game, guard Corey Sanders buried a stepback long 2-pointer to expand the lead to five, and the Scarlet Knights never looked back.

A 3-pointer by Sanders with just under six seconds left in regulation had squared the game at 56, and senior forward Gavin Skelly missed a heavily contest layup at the buzzer to send the teams to overtime.

With McIntosh sitting out almost the entire second half, the Wildcats’ (15-12, 6-8 Big Ten) offense fell apart. Short of spectacular plays by fellow senior guard Scottie Lindsey, NU failed to generate anything resembling a competent offense. The Cats shot 38 percent from the field in the game.

The Scarlet Knights (13-16, 3-13) snagged their third Big Ten win of the season on the back of Sanders, who scored 30 points to lead all scorers. Coming into the game sitting last in the conference, Rutgers climbed out of the gutter without forward DeShawn Freeman, who mysteriously sat out the entire game.

Takeaways

1. Chris Collins was forced to trust his bench, and it did not go well. In the previous game against Maryland, only two NU players played more than seven minutes off the bench. They totaled only 12 points. Tonight, three different players got at least nine minutes, and the group combined to score 14. The bench was thrust into a larger role after McIntosh went down, forcing freshman Anthony Gaines to play the off-guard role and Lindsey to assume primary ball-handling duties. For much of the second half, this led to the Cats’ offense bogging down.

2. Pardon was crucial to breaking down the defense in the first half.
The junior center struggled to score in the post at the beginning of the year, but he’s been in a groove recently. Since a disastrous 6-for-18 performance against Nebraska, Pardon has gone 48-for-71 from the field. His ability to score in the post against a tough, gritty Rutgers perimeter defense was key. Of course, it was a different story in the second half, as the offense collapsed with its senior leader.

3. Northwestern is in free fall. There’s really no other way to take a loss to a team that has won a total of nine conference games over four years. Rutgers had lost seven straight games before Tuesday, including a massive 31-point loss against Illinois, who they surpassed for 13th place in the Big Ten after the win. Before the season, the Wildcats were ranked No. 19 in the country and expected to return to the NCAA Tournament. Now, they’ll have to fight to make the NIT.

Email: josephwilkinson2019@u.northwestern.edu

Twitter: @joe_f_wilkinson

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