The Daily Northwestern

Men’s Basketball: Wildcats lose fifth straight to Wisconsin on Senior Night

Bryant McIntosh initiates the offense. The senior point guard turned in another quality performance on Senior Night.

Bryant McIntosh initiates the offense. The senior point guard turned in another quality performance on Senior Night.

Keshia Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Keshia Johnson/Daily Senior Staffer

Bryant McIntosh initiates the offense. The senior point guard turned in another quality performance on Senior Night.

Ella Brockway, Reporter

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Men’s Basketball

Senior guards Bryant McIntosh and Scottie Lindsey combined for six assists, six rebounds and 44 points, but it still wasn’t enough for Northwestern to clinch a win on Senior Night.

The Wildcats (15-15, 6-11 Big Ten) fell to Wisconsin (14-16, 7-10) in a 70-64 loss in their final game of the season on their temporary home floor at Allstate Arena on Thursday. It was NU’s fifth straight loss in what has been a grueling and injury-plagued February.

It was a lack of depth that crushed the Cats, the third straight game in which they’ve dressed only eight scholarship players. Though McIntosh, who scored 18 points, returned after missing the past two games with a shoulder injury, junior guard Vic Law sat out of Thursday’s game with a foot injury suffered in Monday’s loss to Maryland.

“It’s disappointing,” coach Chris Collins said. “In terms of fight and attitude and effort, I thought with the guys that put the (uniforms) on tonight, everybody gave their all and that’s all I can ask for, especially when you’re up against it with injuries like this.”

Fellow senior Gavin Skelly added only 4 points and three rebounds, and the Wisconsin bench outscored NU’s bench 19-0.

Law’s absence hurt on both ends of the floor from the start. The Cats committed four turnovers in the first three minutes of the game, and the Badgers took advantage of the spaces created by NU’s matchup zone to find open shooters.

“There were definitely points in the game that … we made some deflating turnovers (and) they made some huge shots,” said Lindsey, who finished with a game-high 26 points. “But none of the guys gave up and everyone stayed in the game and everyone battled for the seniors.”

Wisconsin shot 7-for-14 from 3-point range in the first half, equaling the number of threes it hit in the whole game when the two teams met earlier this month in what ended in a 60-52 Cats win.

With the Badgers’ lead at three and less than a minute remaining before halftime, NU had a chance to convert and head into the break with the momentum in their favor when sophomore guard Isiah Brown stole the ball and the Cats pushed the other way.

But the opportunity was lost when NU committed its fifth turnover of the night and Wisconsin converted with a 3-pointer from guard Brevin Pritzl on the other end with five seconds left in the half to take a six-point lead.

The Cats came out strong in the second period, going on a 9-2 run to take a one-point lead with over 15 minutes left to play. But just as NU was beginning to find its offensive rhythm, the Badgers switched up their own offensive strategy, focusing on post-up plays in the paint and feeding the ball to leading scorer Ethan Happ.

The forward, who had been held to just four points in the first half, scored 15 in the second half, and led the Badgers in capitalizing on a string of possessions with under four minutes left in the game, forcing two turnovers and then scoring on a dunk with 2:56 remaining to put Wisconsin ahead by four.

The Cats staged a late-game comeback, and a jumper late in the shot clock from Lindsey with 1:01 to play cut the deficit to one. It was another 3-pointer from Wisconsin’s Pritzl —- this one with 29 seconds left in the game — that put the nail in the coffin and clinched the win for the Badgers.

“We laid it on the line tonight,” McIntosh said. “We just battled and showed our character throughout the game, and just how hard we played to stay in the game and try to find a way to win. We came up short, but I can be proud of the way my Senior Night ended, even in a loss, just with how hard we played.”

Twitter: @ellabrockway