Men’s Basketball: Northwestern falls short in 82-76 loss to No. 8 Wisconsin


Gabe Bider

Chase Audiges dribbles up the court. Audige had a team-high 23 points in Northwestern’s 82-76 loss to No. 8 Wisconsin.

Alex Cervantes, Reporter

Men’s Basketball

Coming off the heels of an upset victory over then-No. 10 Michigan State, Northwestern had implicit momentum.

With the return of senior forward Pete Nance in the lineup and an overflowing student section in Welsh-Ryan Arena, the Wildcats were in business. But that dream reality was cut short Tuesday in the Wildcats’ 82-76 loss to No. 8 Wisconsin.

Badger guard Chucky Hepburn’s half-court, bank-in heave to extend Wisconsin’s halftime lead was a microcosm of the game. Every time NU cut the lead down to four points or fewer, the Badgers would stretch it once again, whether from three-point range or at the free throw line. Wisconsin hit nine threes and attempted 26 free throws. The Cats made seven 3-pointers and had eight free throw attempts.

“You’d have to ask the officials,” coach Chris Collins said of the shot disparity at the free throw line. “Our guys were driving (the ball). Chase (Audige) doesn’t shoot a free throw the whole game and Davis shoots 10, and none of them were on drives … but I’m not the one calling (fouls). All I can tell our guys is to continue to play aggressively.”

Redshirt junior guard Chase Audige went toe-to-toe with Badger guard Johnny Davis for much of the night. Davis, a Naismith College Player of the Year candidate, had 27 points on the night with eight-for-15 shooting, including four-for-five from three-point range. Audige recorded a season-high 23 points on 10-for-17 shooting and three-for-four from deep.

Regarding Davis’ efficient scoring night, Audige, the former William & Mary standout, took responsibility postgame.

“I pride myself on my defense,” Audige said. “Your offense can come and go, but your defense is something you can bring every game. I’ve just got to do better.”

All five Big Ten losses for NU have now come by eight points or less. There are games in which the Cats are a five-point swing or a couple of free throws away from a completely different mid-season January standing.

Nevertheless, the positivity Collins has continued to preach remains contagious despite the rather bleak start to conference play.

“(We’re) trying to be as positive as possible,” Audige said. “We have a really good team, everyone in the locker room believes in each other. We won last week at Michigan State and had this game a few times. There’s just a few key plays and stuff like that, but we’re gonna keep fighting.”

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Twitter: @CervantesPAlex

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