How it Happened
The teams played at a slow pace early on as both squads worked the ball inside. Freshman De'Ron Davis, getting his third straight start, scored four points, grabbed a rebound and stole a pass in the first four minutes to keep Indiana in the game. Northwestern (20-9, 9-7) led 6-4 at the 15:08 mark with all three of their baskets coming from within the restricted area.
The game slogged on for several more minutes before the first true flurry of activity. First, James Blackmon Jr. hit the first triple of the game for either side and then Josh Newkirk followed by slicing through the lane for a layup in a traffic. On the other end of the floor, Indiana native Bryant McIntosh drilled a 3 as well from the right wing to even the score at 11.
McIntosh's 3-pointer set off an extended 18-3 run for the Wildcats that allowed them to take control of the game as the first half passed its midway point. The run encompassed part of a stretch during which NU hit seven straight shots from the field while IU went 1-for-7. Guard Scottie Lindsey, coming off a 1-for-11 performance last time out against Illinois, scored nine points during the stretch, including two nearly identical steal-and-layup sequences and a 3. The Wildcats led 26-14 with 5:30 to go in the half.
Freshman Devonte Green finally broke the run for the Hoosiers (16-13, 6-10) when he knocked down a tough step-back triple from the corner to get the Wildcat lead back to single digits. The shot was the first field goal for the Hoosiers in over minutes. It was a rough stretch offensively for Indiana, which not only struggled shooting but also turned the ball over four times during the same span.
The rest of the half would be a complete 180 from that stretch, however. Green followed his big jumper with a nice dish to Thomas Bryant on a fast break for an old-fashioned 3-point play that pulled the Hoosiers back within six at 26-20. Indiana wasn't done, though, and Newkirk added a triple of his own before Juwan Morgan drove to the hoop for a pretty reverse layup that made it a 12-0 Hoosier run and evened the score at 26. Morgan's basket forced a Northwestern timeout while the Assembly Hall crowd roared for the first time.
On the first IU possession out of the timeout, Morgan again got the ball inside and threw down a big dunk to put Indiana back in front with for the first time since it was 11-8. The sophomore took a big fall after the dunk and landed on his lower back, but he stayed in the game.
Down the stretch in the half, the Hoosiers continued to pour it on. When Blackmon Jr. hit a tough fadeaway 3 with less than 30 seconds left, it looked like Indiana would go into the locker room with a seven-point advantage. Just before the buzzer, though, Green picked up a long rebound off a Northwestern miss and heaved it from the opposite 3-point line as time expired. The ball slammed off the backboard and through the net to cap one of Indiana's best stretches of the season. IU went into halftime ahead 36-26, riding a 22-0 run. The Wildcats did not score in the final 5:30 of the half, missing eight straight shots.
The differences in the half were 3-point shooting and rebounding. Indiana went 6-for-12 from beyond the arc, while Northwestern was just 2-for-11. On the boards, the Hoosiers ran up a 20-12 advantage and allowed the Wildcats just three offensive rebounds. Lindsey led all scorers with nine points in the half.
Indiana's run ended early in the second half and a couple of early turnovers allowed the Wildcats to start to chip away at the IU lead. When McIntosh drove to the hoop, drew contact and made a pair of free throws, NU had sliced its deficit to just four with 16 minutes to play. Just over a minute later, Sanjay Lumpkin spun through the lane and scored off the glass through a foul. He made the free throw, too, and suddenly IU's lead was only 40-39.
Northwestern completed its comeback with a pair of Vic Law free throws to retake the lead at 41-40 and make it a 9-0 run. The run eventually hit 11-0 before Freddie McSwain Jr. tipped home a Bryant miss to slow the NU momentum slightly. McSwain Jr.'s basket was the only one for the streaky Hoosiers during a span in which it went 1-for-11 while Northwestern shot back in front.
The Wildcats continued to dominate the second half as it passed into the final 10 minutes. Six straight Northwestern points followed McSwain Jr.'s bucket to make it a 17-2 extended NU run that gave it a 49-42 advantage and quieted the IU crowd once again. Indiana scored just six points in the first 10 minutes of the second half. Morgan broke the run with another reverse layup off a nice pass from Robert Johnson in the lane.
Northwestern continued to hold the Hoosiers at an arm's length until the game's final minutes. The Wildcats held on to the lead despite not making a field goal for a 7:18 stretch because Indiana couldn't hit anything either. When McIntosh knocked in a tough floater from 12 feet away, Northwestern was in front 58-50 with 3:55 remaining. On the floor when McIntosh hit the shot was Indiana fan-favorite Tim Priller, who grabbed a rebound and committed a foul in two minutes of playing time.
The lead was six for the Wildcats with 1:33 to go when McIntosh knocked away a pass intended for Johnson and drained a free throw to make it 62-55 in favor of Northwestern. The play put Indiana's back to the wall, but the Hoosiers responded. Johnson drove for a layup on the ensuing possession and, after a stop on defense, Blackmon Jr. hit a triple from the left wing to pull his team within two with 38 seconds to play.
Northwestern got the ball to McIntosh and he put up a floater, but left it short. With under 10 seconds left, Blackmon Jr. raced the other way, as Tom Crean eschewed a timeout. The junior drove to the hoop and dished to Bryant, who got the ball under the rim and threw down a powerful dunk through a foul to even the score with two seconds left. He drained the clutch free throw, as well, off the back of the rim to seal a huge win for the Hoosiers. Indiana ended the game on a 8-0 run.
Player of the Game-Bryant McIntosh
Even in a losing effort, the junior from Greensburg was the best player on the floor most of the night. He scored 17 points in the second half as the Wildcats recovered from the big Indiana run to end the first half and his heave at the buzzer from just inside halfcourt rolled off the rim. McIntosh went 8-for-18 from the field, including 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. He also grabbed five rebounds and dished off two assists in front of his home-state fans. He averaged 21.5 points in two games against IU this season, which were two of his nine 20-point performances.
Collin Hartman was honored with a Senior Day ceremony and gave a speech after the game; it is still a possibility he could return next season...Indiana finished the season with a 14-4 record at home...IU came in ranked eighth in the country in average rebounding margin at plus-8.0 and outrebounded the Wildcats 42-33..Northwestern entered the game 11th in the country in turnovers per game at 10.5; the Wildcats gave it away just six times against IU and held a 16-3 advantage in points off TOs...Blackmon Jr. led the Hoosiers with 13 points.
The Hoosiers are back in action Tuesday in West Lafayette at Mackey Arena for a rivalry game against No. 14 Purdue (23-6, 12-4). The game will tip at 7 p.m. EST and will be broadcast on ESPN. The Boilermakers will come in leading the Big Ten, but they lost Saturday to Michigian, a defeat that snapped a six-game win streak that included a 69-64 victory over the Hoosiers Feb. 9.