Men’s Basketball: Audige’s second half explosion leads Wildcats to perfect Big Ten start


Joshua Hoffman

Chase Audige gave the Wildcats the offensive spark they needed against Indiana. The sophomore guard finished with 17 points, all in the final nine minutes.

John Riker, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Believe it: the Northwestern Wildcats are 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2005-06 and have defeated two traditional powers, Michigan State and Indiana, over a span of four days. 

After NU (5-1, 2-0 in Big Ten) knocked off Indiana (5-3, 0-1) in their first road contest of the year, 74-67, coach Chris Collins acknowledged the 2020-2021 team is different from previous years. 

“They’ve grown up, they’re tough, they believe, they’re confident,” Collins said. 

Wednesday night’s matchup highlighted another key difference between this year’s Cats squad and the NU teams of the past — transfer Chase Audige. After failing to score in his three minutes of first half action against the host Hoosiers, Audige tallied 17 points across the final nine minutes of regulation in a last-second victory.

Early on, Audige struggled to even stay on the court due to foul trouble. The sophomore guard fouled twice in the game’s first four minutes, and after Collins substituted in freshman guard Ty Berry, Audige did not see the floor again for the remainder of the half. 

Even without Audige, the Cats’ offense opened a wide first-half lead, which reached as many as 15 points, before Indiana closed the deficit to 37-28 by halftime. The Hoosiers’ offense caught fire to start the second half and took the lead with 12 minutes left in regulation. 

“Because guys had to play extended minutes in the first half, I thought guys looked tired in the second half,” Collins said. “The (Hoosiers) made their run, they made their push, and then our guys just dug down.”

The Cats stayed within striking range, but the Hoosiers threatened to pull away, up 54-50 with just under nine minutes left. 

With the game teetering on the edge, Audige found his shooting stroke and dominated Indiana on the offensive end.

Audige went to work in the midrange, converting three field goals to spark a 12-0 run by the Cats and give NU the lead. Indiana closed its deficit to 63-61 with three minutes left, before Audige responded with baskets on three consecutive possessions. 

The Hoosiers’ last-gasp effort in the final minute pulled them within a possession with 30 seconds to go, before Audige sunk all four of his late free throw attempts to seal the Cats’ victory. When Indiana guard Rob Phinisee’s three-point attempt missed in the final seconds, it was only fitting when Audige pulled down the rebound. 

“We got some stops, and then the Chase Audige explosion happened,” Collins said. “That was awesome, and I’m happy for him, a guy who had to sit out a year and was so anxious to play on this stage. He got 17 points in (nine) minutes. It’s great to have a closer like that.”

A couple days after backcourt mate Boo Buie earned Big Ten Player of the Week for his 30-point outburst against Michigan State, Audige assumed the role of the offense’s go-to guy late against Indiana. 

Collins added that the number of late-game options was one of the most significant improvements he has seen over last year’s Cats team.

“It’s winning by committee,” Collins said. “Sunday it was Boo and Pete (Nance). Today it was Ryan Young and Miller (Kopp)… (and) Chase at the end of the game. Whoever’s got it going, whatever we find that works, we’ll go with that, because guys just want to win.”


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