There was one big problem with Indiana's potential game-winning shot against Northwestern Wednesday night.
They never got it off.
Trailing by two with :05.2 left, Verdell Jones' in-bounds pass was stolen by Kevin Coble to thwart a potential game-tying or winning shot, and the Wildcats ran out the clock to secure a 77-75 win at Welsh-Ryan Arena.
It was the last of a series of big plays for Coble, who scored 13 of his 19 points in the second half for Northwestern (11-7/3-5). After Indiana had cut Northwestern's 11-point second half lead to one with 3:20 left, Coble helped hold off IU's charge with a 3-pointer to push the lead to four and then knocked down a tough off balance 14-footer with 2:11 left to push the lead to six, 75-69.
Jones' miscue was also the last of 22 turnovers committed by the Hoosiers, which resulted in a 25-16 edge for Northwestern in points off turnovers. Seven of those turnovers were committed by Jones, who finished with 14 points, four rebounds and seven assists.
Jones' final turnover came following an Indiana timeout after they advanced the ball to midcourt after Moore's two free throws.
"We felt comfortable with what we wanted to get in the halfcourt," IU Coach Tom Crean said. "We got it there, but you just can't throw a slow bounce pass. You can't."
In addition to the abundance of turnovers, there also appeared to be one big mistake committed late in the contest as well. After back-to-back 3-pointers by Jones and Roth tied the game at 75-75 with 36 seconds left, Devan Dumes fouled Northwestern guard Craig Moore with :06.6 left on the clock. Moore made both free throws, and IU's chances at its first win since Dec. 10 were dashed on Jones' ensuing in-bounds pass.
Crean said Dumes' foul was not by design.
"We want to trust our defense (in that situation)," Crean said. "If we were going to foul, we would have done it at the beginning. It was nothing that we planned to do."
Dumes' ill-timed foul ruined what was otherwise a career night for the Hoosiers' junior guard. Dumes scored a career-high 26, with 21 of those coming during the first half. Dumes made 5-of-6 3-pointers in the opening half and 6-of-10 for the game, leading an IU team that finished 12-of-23 from 3-point range overall.
But Northwestern matched IU's 3-point effort, going an identical 12-of-23 from deep. Five of those 3s came from Moore, who scored a team-high 21 points and capped his night with the two game-winning free throws.
It was Indiana's tenth consecutive loss, dropping Crean's team to 5-14 overall and 0-7 in the Big Ten. The current slide is the program's longest since the 1943-44 season when IU had an 11-game losing streak in the midst of a 7-15 campaign.
Despite the losing streak and Wednesday's heartbreaking loss, Crean says it is clear that the team is improving, even if that isn't reflected in the conference standings. But in a game that saw Northwestern overcome a nine-point first half deficit and IU dig out of an 11-point second half hole, the Wildcats had just enough to handle the Hoosiers.
"We deserved to win, but so did they," Crean said. "They made one more play than we did."
Williams 2-4 0-0 4, Taber 2-3 0-0 4, Pritchard 2-4 3-3 7, Dumes 9-16 2-2 26, Jones 4-7 4-4 14, Roth 4-8 0-0 12, Story 0-2 6-6 6, Moore 0-1 0-0 0, Jobe 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 0-1 2-4 2. Totals 23-46 17-19 75.
Coble 6-11 5-8 19, Shurna 0-2 0-0 0, Rowley 3-5 1-3 7, Moore 6-11 4-4 21, Thompson 5-9 2-2 15, Curletti 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 1-2 0-0 2, Peljusic 1-1 1-2 3, Nash 4-5 0-1 10, Ryan 0-0 0-0 0, Capocci 0-0 0-0 0, Mirkovic 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-46 13-20 77.
3-Pointers: Indiana 12-23 (Dumes 6-10, Roth 4-7, Jones 2-4, Taber 0-1, Story 0-1), Northwestern 12-23 (Moore 5-9, Thompson 3-5, Nash 2-2, Coble 2-5, Shurna 0-2). Rebounds: Indiana 30 (Pritchard 10), Northwestern 19 (Moore 3, Peljusic 3, Nash 3). Assists: Indiana 19 (Jones 7), Northwestern 20 (Thompson 5). Turnovers: Indiana 22, Northwestern 19. Steals: Indiana 8, Northwestern 13. Blocks: Indiana 0, Northwestern 1. Fouled Out – Indiana (Williams). Technical Fouls: Indiana (Dumes).
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