Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Rapid Recap: Wisconsin 70, Northwestern 61

Henry Frieman/The Daily Northwestern
Graduate student guard Boo Buie gears up for play against Wisconsin Friday. Buie scored 16 first-half points in the battle with the Badgers.

MINNEAPOLIS — Northwestern traveled to the Target Center to square off against Wisconsin in Friday afternoon’s conference tournament quarterfinal. 

For the second consecutive year, the Wildcats earned a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament and looked to outlast the Badgers and clinch a semifinal spot. 

Both teams struggled to score from the game’s onset, going bucketless over nearly the first three minutes. Sophomore forward Nick Martinelli’s dunk opened the scoring for NU. By the game’s first media timeout, both offenses combined to tally six points. 

After Wisconsin took an early 5-4 lead, graduate student guard Boo Buie’s trio of three-point jumpers helped reclaim the ‘Cats’ lead. On the next offensive possession, junior guard Brooks Barnhizer and-one jumper capped a 9-0 scoring run, extending NU’s lead to 16-8 with 13 minutes left. 

As the half ran on, Buie’s offensive prowess continued. Canning the ‘Cats next five points, the unanimous All-Big Ten playmaker stretched NU’s lead into double-digits for the first time. 

Riding a 14-0 run, Wisconsin reclaimed the lead 26-23 with less than seven minutes remaining in the first frame. Martinelli’s staple left-handed hook shot snapped the ‘Cats lengthy scoreless stretch. 

Over the final minutes of the first half, NU remained scoreless from the field. Sophomore forward Luke Hunger’s jumper to close out the frame helped the ‘Cats trim the Badgers’ deficit to 33-29 entering the intermission. 

Out of the locker rooms, Buie’s pair of jumpers in the second half’s opening minutes were part of a 7-0 NU run, leveling the scores at 38-all. 

The ‘Cats’ offensive struggles persisted over the second frame. After the Badgers claimed an eight-point lead, Barnhizer’s and-one layup snapped a three-minute scoring drought with less than eight minutes remaining. 

While Buie’s pullup 3-pointer trimmed NU’s deficit to six with nearly four minutes remaining, the ‘Cats had no answers for Badger guard A.J. Storr, whose 17 second-half points limited any late comeback attempt. 

Here are three takeaways from NU’s loss to Wisconsin. 

1. NU’s offense leans on Buie early 

After both offenses struggled mightily in the game’s opening minutes, Buie’s fast offensive start helped the ‘Cats build an early double digit lead. 

Buie tallied 16 of NU’s first 21 points. During this stretch, Buie buried four treys as the Badgers had no answers for him. 

But, after landing awkwardly, Buie was forced to the bench. 

Starting from this brief stint, the ‘Cats offense couldn’t find any momentum in the next several minutes. 

By the intermission, the rest of NU’s offense was scoreless from deep on six attempts — with Langborg and Barnhizer each recording a field goal apiece. 

2. Strong defense overshadowed by Badgers’ run 

After NU’s regular-season finale victory over Minnesota, coach Chris Collins commended his defense’s ability to limit the Golden Gophers’ runs in second-half play.

The ‘Cats picked up right where they left off on Friday, making the Badgers face difficulties finding any semblance of offense out of the gates. Wisconsin started the game 1-of-7 from the field and were forced to heave multiple off-balanced, late in the shot clock attempts. 

But, a Wisconsin scoring barrage coupled with NU’s inability to find offense, limited the early defensive efforts for the ‘Cats. Behind Storr’s 13 points and forward Steven Crowl’s 10 points, the Badgers rode an 18-2 run to hold a four-point lead entering the intermission. 

3. Second half offensive struggles doom ‘Cats

While Buie continued to lead NU’s offense out of the second-half gates, the rest of the offense sputtered as it attempted a comeback down the stretch. 

As the Badgers controlled the game’s pace, every Wildcat starter outside of Buie was limited to three or less points. With Wisconsin double — and at times, triple — teaming the ‘Cats leading scorer, NU went on multiple prolonged scoring droughts.

By the end of Friday’s contest, outside of Buie, the ‘Cats shot 11-of-38 from the field. 

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Twitter: @aayushyagarwal7

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