Northwestern takes tourney

Behind 23 points from John Shurna, Northwestern beat Iowa State to capture the Chicago Invitational Challenge championship. Read more about Shurna, who was named tournament MOP, and who else stepped up in the Cats' 67-65 win.

CHICAGO - Northwestern capped a memorable weekend by downing previously undefeated Iowa State 67-65 Saturday night at the UIC Pavilion to claim the Chicago Invitational Challenge title. Sophomore forward John Shurna finished with a game-high 23 points and was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.

It was the fourth consecutive win for the Wildcats who improve to 5-1 on the season. Meanwhile, the Cyclones fall to 6-1.

NU got off to a cold shooting start and fell behind early, 10-3, but rallied back behind the hot hand of Shurna. After posting 14 first-half points Friday night against Notre Dame and a career-high 25 overall, Shurna went off for 17 in the first 12 minutes against the Cyclones.

Both offenses were performing at a high level in the opening half of play as each squad shot 50 percent from the field. Iowa State entered the contest shooting 51.5 percent on the season from 3-point range and hit seven shots from deep in the first half, including four by Lucca Staiger as the Cyclones took a 39-34 lead into the break.

Iowa State connected on the first two baskets of the second half to take its largest lead of the game of nine at 43-34. But senior guard Jeremy Nash hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut the deficit to three, getting NU right back in the contest.

The Wildcats made it all the way back to even on a triple by Michael Thompson with 10:55 remaining, and following a pair of free throws by Marquis Gilstrap, Alex Marcotullio gave Northwestern the lead with a 3-pointer of his own.

Following a trey by Jamie Vanderbeken at the 14:46 mark, the 'Cats limited Iowa State to just one field goal over the next 12 minutes of play.

Northwestern's lead was three with just under four minutes remaining when sophomore Davide Curletti hit the biggest shot of his young career, nailing a 3-pointer from the top of the key to put the Wildcats up by six.

Iowa State crept back to within two points on a Staiger shot from beyond the arc and got a steal on the other end, but Staiger's attempt to give the Cyclones the lead was off the mark.

With NU holding on to a precarious two-point lead, Nash converted on two attempts from the free throw line with 21.3 seconds left to push the advantage to four. Craig Brackins converted on one of two from the charity stripe on the other end before Nash sealed the victory with two more makes from the line with 4.9 seconds to go.

Northwestern limited Iowa State to just seven field goals in the second half and 28.0 percent shooting. Thompson (16) and Nash (10), who had a team-high five assists, joined Shurna in double figures in the scoring column. The trio represented the Wildcats on the all-tournament team.

Brackens and Staiger led the Cyclones with 18 points apiece.

The Wildcats return to action at 6 p.m. Central time Tuesday as they travel to N.C. State to participate in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

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