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Men’s Basketball: Losing streak extends to seven as Wildcats fall at Ohio State

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Men’s Basketball: Losing streak extends to seven as Wildcats fall at Ohio State

Vic Law dribbles the ball. The senior forward scored 10 points on Wednesday.

Vic Law dribbles the ball. The senior forward scored 10 points on Wednesday.

Daily file photo by Noah Fricks-Alofs

Vic Law dribbles the ball. The senior forward scored 10 points on Wednesday.

Daily file photo by Noah Fricks-Alofs

Daily file photo by Noah Fricks-Alofs

Vic Law dribbles the ball. The senior forward scored 10 points on Wednesday.

Ella Brockway, Copy Chief

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Different night, same story.

For the fourth time in its last five games, Northwestern put together an impressive defensive performance and held its opponent to less than 65 points. But for the sixth time in seven games, the Wildcats couldn’t match that with a strong offensive showing on the other end and failed to score more than 65 themselves.

NU (12-14, 3-12 Big Ten) extended its conference losing streak to seven games in a 63-49 loss to Ohio State (17-9, 7-8) on Wednesday night in Columbus, Ohio. The Cats had no answer for Buckeyes forward Kaleb Wesson, who scored a game-high 22 points and added eight rebounds, and totaled their second-lowest point total of the season.

“I love that our guys still have good attitudes. They’re fighting and they’re playing their tails off defensively,” coach Chris Collins said. “We’ve just got to hope that one of these games we can break through a little bit offensively, see the ball go in and find a way to win.”

Senior forward Vic Law finished with a team-high 10 points on 3-for-8 shooting, after three straight games in which he scored more than 15 points. Senior center Dererk Pardon, starting alongside junior center Barret Benson for the fourth straight game, added only 8 points.

The matchup got off to a slow start — by the 12-minute mark, the teams had combined for just 8 points. NU had as many turnovers as it did made field goals (7) in the first half, and with Pardon mostly double-teamed, the Cats were unable to get anything going offensively.

“Honestly, Northwestern, they run such good stuff, they missed some shots that I think they normally make,” Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann said. “I think we probably got lucky in some areas.”

The numbers at halftime were underwhelming on both sides: NU scored just 20 total points, its least in the first since January 2018, and shot 29 percent from field goal range; the Buckeyes, on the other hand, went 2-for-12 from field goal range and also committed seven turnovers in the first 20 minutes of action.

The second half didn’t start much better, as Ohio State jumped out to a nine-point lead. But shots began to fall for the Cats midway through the period — junior forward A.J. Turner, coming in off the bench, scored 5 of his 9 points in a two-minute stretch — and NU managed to cut the the Buckeyes’ lead to four with just over 10 minutes to play.

But basketball is a game of runs, and the Cats continued to struggle to make an extended one of their own. Ohio State scored 19 points and only allowed 4 to stretch its lead to 18 with under five minutes to go, and NU didn’t come close again.

“At halftime, all things considered, when it was 24-20 I felt like we were still in pretty good shape,” Collins said. “I didn’t think we’d played very well offensively, but we were still right there, it was a four-point game … we just weren’t able to sustain it offensively for the last 20 minutes, and they were.”

Despite shooting 4-for-20 from 3-point range — its second-worst percentage in conference play this season — the Buckeyes outscored the Cats 40-22 in the paint and did enough to prevent any sort of NU comeback.

The loss means that the Cats are now tied with Penn State for last place in the Big Ten, as both teams have conference records of 3-12. NU has five games left on the schedule — four of which are at home — and the race to avoid finishing in the bottom four and playing on the first day of the Big Ten Tournament is on.

“If you look at our numbers, we just haven’t been a prolific offensive team,” Collins said. “We have to win that kind of a game.”

Email: ellabrockway2021@u.northwestern.edu
Twitter: @ellabrockway

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