Men’s Basketball: Veteran savvy keeps Northwestern’s compass pointing north in narrow overtime win


Alyce Brown/The Daily Northwestern

Chase Audige dribbles the ball. Audige’s critical three-pointer gave Northwestern the lead against Rutgers in overtime.

Patrick Andres, Sports Editor

Men’s Basketball

When it was all over, coach Chris Collins was smiling, pumping up the Welsh-Ryan Arena crowd and giving little hint of the arduous path the Wildcats took to their first home conference win of the season.

“You win by one, you win by 30,” Collins said. “It counts.”

NU (10-10, 3-8 Big Ten) looked on pace to do both at various points in its wild 79-78 win over Rutgers (12-9, 6-5 Big Ten) Tuesday evening. The Cats led 52-28 with 17:07 to play, frittered away that lead in its entirety and recovered to win in overtime thanks to big plays from old faces on their roster.

In the first half, NU could seemingly do no wrong. The Cats shot 59.3% from the field and 46.2% from three. Five players eclipsed five points, junior guard Boo Buie had three rebounds and four assists and freshman guard Julian Roper II had three boards and three assists.

“I thought things were going north for about 25 minutes, when we were up by 24,” Collins said. “You want to talk about it going south, I thought it was going north for a big part of the game. When they go on a run, you gotta dig down.”

Once the damage was done — in the form of a 70-70 tie at the end of regulation — NU indeed dug down. After the Scarlet Knights took their only lead of the game 16 seconds into overtime, redshirt junior guard Chase Audige swished a three to put the Cats up 73-72.

“We all trust each other to knock down shots, to find the open guy,” Buie said. “My teammates hit a lot of shots late, along with Chase, who hit a couple shots. They know their role, and they did what they were supposed to do.”

Buie took the reins from there on out. With 2:01 left in the extra session and Collins’ squad clinging to a two-point lead, he pulled up and splashed a three to give NU a five-point cushion.

Then, with 21 seconds left and the lead back down to two, Buie calmly drained a pair of free throws to stretch the Cats’ lead to 79-76. That proved to be the difference, as NU escaped with win number 10.

“Going into overtime, we were obviously unhappy with what we got ourselves into,” Buie said. “We looked at it as a fresh start. We thought we were gonna come out in the next five minutes and win the game.”

Other veteran Cats scattered their contributions throughout regulation. Junior forward Robbie Beran’s six points in the second half tied for the team lead. Redshirt junior center Ryan Young scored eight points on just three field goal attempts, and senior forward Pete Nance added 10 points despite an off shooting night.

Ultimately, however, it was Buie and Audige who oriented NU toward a much-needed triumph.

“In overtime, we did the job, we got the win,” Collins said. “At the end it was north, it wasn’t south.”

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @pandres2001


Related Stories:

Rapid Recap: Northwestern 79, Rutgers 78 (OT)

Captured: Men’s and women’s basketball teams fall a few points short

Men’s Basketball: Northwestern fails to finish once again, this time to No. 24 Illinois