Men’s Basketball: Northwestern suffers its second straight heartbreaker 59-56 against Rutgers


Noah Fricks-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

Vic Law runs the offense. The senior forward finished with 17 points on Wednesday.

Andrew Golden, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

In a matchup of the two worst-scoring teams in the Big Ten, the Northwestern-Rutgers game was what fans expected — a low-scoring affair.

The Wildcats and the Scarlet Knights came into the game ranked 13th and 14th in the Big Ten, scoring 68.2 and 68 points per game respectively.

Less than a month ago, these two teams faced off in Piscataway, New Jersey in a tight contest that NU (12-12, 3-10 Big Ten) won 65-57. This game was not much different, as Rutgers (12-12, 5-9) and the Cats traded buckets late in the game. But, in the end, the Scarlet Knights made a couple of clutch shots down the stretch to win 59-56, handing NU its second straight heartbreaking loss.

“It’s frustrating,” coach Chris Collins said. “I really feel for the guys … Nobody likes losing. It’s not a fun feeling and we just have to dig down and roll your sleeves up and try to find a way.”

The first half was a struggle for both teams to find their respective rhythms offensively, despite NU’s strong start to the game. In the first three minutes of action, the Cats shot 3-for-5 from the field, jumping out to an early 6-0 lead. But after the hot start, both teams went through dry stretches, with neither team shooting well from the field.

After a dunk from senior center Dererk Pardon gave NU an 11-8 lead with under 14 minutes remaining, both teams went over two minutes without scoring before another basket from Pardon extended the Cats’ lead. Another stretch of almost two minutes elapsed in which neither team scored until Rutgers guard Geo Baker broke the dry spell with a bucket of his own.

By the end of the first half, both teams had scored 22 points and neither team had an impressive field goal percentage. While Rutgers shot 34.5 percent in the first half, NU was barely better with a shooting percentage of 34.6.

In the second half, the Scarlet Knights’ offense improved their scoring, extending its lead to eight with under six minutes remaining. The Cats slowly chipped away at the lead and cut it to four.

With a little over a minute remaining, senior forward Vic Law hit a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game. After a bucket from Rutgers forward Myles Johnson made it a four-point game, Law hit another three to trim the lead to one.

Out of a timeout, NU forced a five-second violation, giving themselves a chance to take the lead. Off the inbound, Law got the ball, once again, with a chance to win the game. He drove to the basket and put up a shot near the rim, but missed and the Scarlet Knights grabbed the rebound.

“It was one of our favorite out-of-bounds plays,” Collins said about the inbounds play. “We got him turning the corner, he was right in the middle of the lane and I would take that shot all day.”

Rutgers forward Eugene Omoruyi hit two free throws down the stretch and Law had one more chance to tie the game at the buzzer, but wasn’t close and the Scarlet Knights escaped Welsh-Ryan Arena with a win.

The Cats are now in the midst of a five-game losing streak, once again looking to fix the offensive struggles that have plagued them recently.

“You really only have two choices: You can lay down on the season or you can dig down and fight,” Collins said. “There’s no doubt in my mind that that group in my locker room is gonna do it.”

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @andrewcgolden