Men’s Basketball: Northwestern drops fourth straight contest in double-overtime thriller


Jorge Melendez/The Daily Northwestern

Pete Nance attempts to drive inside on defender. Nance led both teams in points (28) and rebounds (14) in the double overtime loss to Maryland.

Lawrence Price, Assistant Sports Editor

The last time Northwestern entered double overtime was nearly a year ago. The team welcomed Big Ten opponent Indiana on Feb. 10, 2021 facing off for the second time of the season following NU’s 74-67 victory in Bloomington earlier in the season.

As the last season contest went down to the wire, the Cats held multiple opportunities to shut the door on the Hoosiers. They held a seven-point lead with about two minutes left in regulation and a six-point lead with about one minute remaining in the first overtime. However, the home team was unable to close the door, allowing Indiana to stay in the game and losing 79-76.

Reliving the disappointing loss, NU (8-6, 1-4 Big Ten) couldn’t turn its double-overtime fortunes around versus Maryland (9-7, 1-4 Big Ten), dropping its fourth straight contest, 94-87.

“You got two teams fighting and scrapping and clawing,” coach Chris Collins said. “You got to make plays and get stops and they did a few more of those things to win the game.”

Similar to the two teams’ matchup in December, the game consisted of both teams trading buckets and numerous lead changes. NU and Maryland struggled to find their rhythms early into the game, both shooting 27% from the field heading into the second media timeout. The teams were all knotted up at 30 entering the halftime break, with NU knocking down 36.4% of its shots versus Maryland’s 36.7%.

Out of the break, both teams found sparks ignited by multiple players, such as NU senior forward Pete Nance (16 points) and junior forward Robbie Beran (10 points), and Maryland guard Eric Ayala (14 points) and forward Donta Scott (13 points). 

The Terrapins’ takeover, carried by Ayala and Scott, resulted in a six-point lead with 30 seconds left in the second half, yet it wasn’t enough to hold off the Cats. Between multiple turnovers, a collision by teammates and a Nance three-pointer, NU found itself on the verge of victory, as Nance stood at the free throw line waiting for his second of two freebies with the scored tied at 72. The leading scorer was unable to capitalize on the opportunity, missing the free throw, but Collins admired his team’s ability to battle back.

“Loved the fight and the heart in our guys of finding a way to get it to overtime,” Collins said. “It didn’t look good there in regulation, we tried to stay positive the whole time down the stretch.”

Both teams were forced to adapt and deviate from their starting fives as time progressed into both overtimes, losing five players in total to foul trouble. Redshirt junior guard Chase Audige picked up his fifth personal foul midway through the first overtime period, versus Maryland’s Scott late in the second half. By the end of the game, both Beran and senior guard Ryan Greer joined Audige in the five-foul category.

Even after losing Audige, the Cats were able to secure a four-point lead at the three-minute and 1:39 marks, but could only muster up two points during this opportune time to shut the door.

This allowed the Terrapins to not only stay in the game, but also dominate the final overtime and crucial sequences. Maryland coach Danny Manning expressed that the possession that secured his team’s victory came in the final overtime.

“One play in particular down the stretch for us we got three offensive rebounds on one sequence that kind of sealed it for us,” Manning said. “We were able to stay the course and come away with a win.”

The mishandled defensive possession came after Nance’s missed hook shot and awkward landing, which sent him to the bench for examination. Although Nance reentered the next possession, the Terrapins’ three-rebound sequence took nearly a minute and a half off the clock, slimming down NU’s chance for a comeback by each second.

Additionally, the Cats picked up 10 fouls throughout the two overtimes to Maryland’s zero.

Maryland shot 20 more free throws than NU by the end of the contest, intensifying the difficulty of securing a victory. 

“In order for us to turn around, we have to improve on the defensive end of the floor and on the glass and to eliminate the free throws,” Collins said. “We’ve got to find a way to stop people and do the dirty work.”

On Sunday, the Cats are heading to Michigan State, the team Collins said is the hottest in the Big Ten.NU must figure out a way to minimize its lurking problems and turn over a new leaf.

“We have 75% of our schedule left in the conference and we have got to come back tomorrow and keep fighting until they tell us not to fight anymore,” Collins said.

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