Men’s Basketball: Cats fall in double OT marathon, suffer 10th straight loss


Joshua Hoffman/Daily Senior Staffer

Ryan Young backs his defender down during Northwestern’s loss to Rutgers on Jan. 31. The Cats lost their 10th straight game in a double overtime loss to Indiana.

John Riker, Assistant Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

Too often Wednesday night, Northwestern was one play away.

One play away from holding onto a seven-point lead with two minutes in regulation. One play away from holding onto a six-point lead with less than a minute in the first overtime period. One play away from snapping a nine-game skid and sweeping the storied Indiana Hoosiers.

In a double-overtime contest that NU led for 43:01 of 45 minutes, the Cats (6-11, 3-10 in Big Ten) could not find answers when it mattered most. NU’s 79-76 loss to the Hoosiers (11-8, 6-6). extended their losing streak to 10 games.

“I love them as a team, I love our guys,” coach Chris Collins said. “For them to come out and play as hard as they did, I’m just heartbroken that we weren’t able to come away with a win.”

NU’s defense carried the team for most of regulation. Trayce Jackson-Davis, who dropped 22 points against NU on Dec. 23, never found a rhythm due to diligent defensive efforts from sophomore center Ryan Young and junior forward Pete Nance. Jackson-Davis made just one of his six field goal attempts in the first half and finished the night with 10 points.

The Cats’ defense opened the game with its best half of the season, holding the Hoosiers to 20 points and just 24.1 percent shooting from the field.

But NU failed to capitalize on the offensive end, including an eight-minute stretch to end the first half in which the Cats mustered two points.

Indiana’s guard duo of Armaan Franklin and Al Durham took advantage of NU’s offensive struggles and the defensive focus on Jackson-Davis, each surpassing the 20-point threshold. The Hoosiers offset their struggles with free throw attempts, finishing the game with a 38-12 edge over the Cats.

“We did a good job of defending (Jackson-Davis) tonight, and the guards on their team are really good too,” forward Nance said. “It was just the guards’ night.”

Still, the Cats had control of the game in the waning minutes, taking a 54-47 lead with 2:16 left in regulation on a layup by Young. NU did not score again in the second half and surrendered seven straight points to Durham, including a jumper with 24 seconds left in the regulation.

NU’s offense came alive in the first overtime with 12 combined points from Nance and sophomore guard Chase Audige, but Indiana’s ability to get to the free throw line gave them their lead. Franklin sank free throws on consecutive possessions to pull the Hoosiers within two, then Durham drilled a long jumper over Audige just before the buzzer to extend the game.

Collins said that his team was unfazed in the huddle, even after Indiana’s comebacks.

“Even when Indiana made shots or when they were coming back on us, it was real positive talk,” Collins said. “Even when we start the overtimes, just ‘it’s gonna mean even more when we pull this thing out.’”

In the second overtime period, the Cats’ first double overtime appearance since 2015, Indiana’s offense took control. Jerome Hunter connected on a three pointer to put the Hoosiers up 75-71 with 15 seconds and the Cats could not respond. Sophomore guard Boo Buie had an opportunity to send the game into another overtime, but his off-balance three-pointer was wide left.

NU entered its home contest undermanned in the backcourt with freshman guard Ty Berry absent. Berry missed the game after his father died on Tuesday night, and Collins said the Cats hoped to pull out a win for their teammate.

“He’s the most energetic, enthusiastic kid,” Collins said of Berry. “We really wanted to just honor his spirit and I thought we did that.”

NU’s last-second defeat continued a dubious trend — three straight seasons with a losing streak of at least ten games. NU’s next chance to end its skid will come on Saturday against Rutgers.

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Twitter: @john__riker

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