Men’s Basketball: Cats down Indiana to start 2-0 in Big Ten for first time in 15 years

Chase+Audige+drives+to+the+basket.+The+sophomore+guard+scored+17+points+in+the+second+half+to+propel+the+Wildcats+to+victory+over+Indiana.

Joshua Hoffman

Chase Audige drives to the basket. The sophomore guard scored 17 points in the second half to propel the Wildcats to victory over Indiana.

Gabriela Carroll, Social Media Editor


Men’s Basketball


For the first time since the 2005-06 season, Northwestern is 2-0 in Big Ten play. 

But they had to fight for their second win against Indiana on Wednesday. The Wildcats (5-1, 2-0 Big Ten) faced a brutal Hoosier defense in a slugfest that saw 16 turnovers on each side.

“All these guys hear all the time is how they can’t close and how they can’t finish games,” coach Chris Collins said. “They want to change the narrative, and it’s all on them. They’ve taken ownership of this thing.”

The Cats got off to a slow start, with sophomore guard Chase Audige picking up two early fouls and spending much of the first half on the bench. 

Their early offense came from junior forward Miller Kopp, who scored eight of the team’s first 10 points. Sophomore center Ryan Young added eight of his own and the team jumped out to a nine-point lead at the half, which got up to as much as 15 points.

But to start the second half, NU turned the ball over five times, and Indiana went on a big run to tighten the score to 37-36 before the Cats finally scored again. The Hoosiers eventually took the lead and were up by as many as four points, but NU kept themselves in it. 

“For our guys to dig down and get the stops we needed — I’m just proud of the team because they’re starting to take real ownership in the huddles and in the preparation,” Collins said. “And that’s when you finally see things start turning the right direction, when the players take that on.”

What Collins dubbed the “Chase Audige explosion” finally brought the Cats back and sealed Wednesday’s win. Audige scored 11 points in the last 3:01 of the game, and scored all 17 of his points in the second half after Indiana regained the lead. 

Foul trouble kept Audige out of the game early, but in a twist of fate, Audige iced the game with his late game free throws. With NU up by only three points with 30 seconds remaining, he sank two crucial free throws to put the Hoosiers away for good, and then got two more to end the game for good measure.

After a last-second loss to Pittsburgh on Dec. 9, it seemed like these were the same old Cats, who could play with the best teams but couldn’t close out games. The grit Collins’ squad showed rallying back after Indiana’s late runs tells a different story.

“Last year, we probably wouldn’t have responded after that run,” Collins said. “But these guys are different…. They just kept saying we’re gonna be okay. They made their run, now let’s make our run back.”

 

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