Northwestern Holds Off Stanford In Evanston

Men's Hoops Editor Ray Salloom provides the Bootleg faithful a look at the game flow, stats, and facts after Stanford couldn't overcome foul trouble and missed free throws, falling to Northwestern 70-62 on Saturday afternoon in Evanston, Illinois. Read how the Cardinal and Wildcats battled closely for most of the game, but a surge by the home team gave them enough cushion to hold off Stanford.

A furious rally ended in a frustrating loss for the Stanford Cardinal, sending the men on a plane the next afternoon to start a two-game road trip, stopping first in Evanston, Illinois, to take on the Northwestern Wildcats.  The Wildcats, playing without star player Kevin Coble for the season due to injury, were looking to end a losing streak to Stanford which has lasted over the past four decades.  Despite continued free throw troubles and nearly 20 turnovers against a tough defense from Northwestern, Stanford was within one with under two minutes to go in the game. However, a big three-pointer and subsequent misses deflated those hopes, as Northwestern pulled away late, beating Stanford 70-62 at Welsh-Ryan Arena on Saturday afternoon.  The Wildcats move to 9-1 on the season, while the Cardinal drop to 5-5.

Northwestern took an early lead of 5-1 after a made three-pointer by Michael Thompson and a layup by Drew Crawford, but Stanford settled down, getting five points from Landry Fields, including a long ball from the right side to give the Cardinal their first lead of the half, 8-7, with 16:20 to go in the half.  Right before the first media timeout, Andrew Zimmerman, who was instrumental in that rally on Wednesday evening, picked up his second foul, sending him to the bench.  The Wildcats immediately started to take advantage of the absence of the big man, going inside for an easy two.  Stanford came back with two consecutive hoops from Jarrett Mann, one off a spin move where he was fouled and still managed to make the shot in mid-air and another off a wonderful pass from Fields that pushed the lead to three, 14-11, with 13:07 remaining.  John Shurna answered with a long two-pointer from straightaway and a second foul on big man Jack Trotter further eroded the depth inside for Stanford heading into the second media break of the contest.

After the timeout, Northwestern ran a nice play to get an easy bucket inside, but Drew Shiller made good on a left corner three-pointer, breaking the newly installed 1-3-1 zone by the Wildcats, giving Stanford a two-point lead.  After a made basket and a free throw by freshman Alex Marcotullio helped get the advantage back to the home team, a deep right-wing triple from Jeremy Green was a swish, bringing words of praise by the BTN announcers and this writer from his couch in San Jose.  A three-pointer by Drew Shiller off a created turnover by the Cardinal brought the lead up to five with 6:40 to go, before things got rolling for both teams.

Layups by Luka Mirkovic and Shurna, the latter accompanied by a free throw, gave Northwestern the lead back at 27-26, but another long ball by Shiller turned the advantage right back to Stanford.  Another Shurna layup put Northwestern back out in front.  Stanford had three opportunities on one possession to get back on top, but missed every chance, while Shurna converted inside for the Wildcats.  Fields, though, had enough of shooting layups and went inside with authority, getting the powerful one-handed dunk over Shurna and a free throw to go in to knot up the score at 33 with 1:03 to go.  Northwestern missed two free throws with 11 seconds to go and the Cardinal could not convert on the other end and the teams went in tied, fitting for a game so close for most of the afternoon.

At the half, Stanford shot 39% from the field, made 50% of their shots from beyond the arc, but struggled again at the free throw line, hitting just four of nine attempts.  Northwestern converted on 41% of their field goals, but was just 2-16 (13%) from long range.  The Wildcats were also unsuccessful at the charity stripe, making just three of seven opportunities.  The Cardinal, despite not having their big men in the middle for most of the half, managed to outrebound the Wildcats by a 23-18 margin.  Stanford turned the ball over eight times while dishing out nine assists, while Northwestern passed around eight assists and committed just two turnovers.

Stanford was led at the half by Fields, who scored 10 points on 4-10 shooting, and was followed by Shiller's nine and Mann's seven points.  Northwestern was led by Shurna's 13 points on 6-10 shooting, while Thompson tallied six for the home team.

The second half didn't start off too well for Stanford had three turnovers in their four possessions, plus a missed shot by Zimmerman, helping the Wildcats get up by three points.  Add in the fact that Zimmerman and Trotter both picked up their third fouls within the first 2:17 of the second half, and the Cardinal had to feel fortunate that Northwestern could only go up by a possession.  Fields, though, decided he had enough of the bad offense and took off for another flying dunk along the baseline that brought a ton of ALL CAPS comments from the folks in the chat room.  The ensuing free throw (yes, he was fouled again) gave Stanford the lead, but a long three-pointer by Crawford from the left corner put the Wildcats back on top.  Fields made an acrobatic layup to tie it up, but Zimmerman picked up his fourth foul right before the media timeout, further hurting the Cardinal efforts inside the paint.

Trotter was the next to pick up his fourth foul as he hacked Mirkovic, who made the layup and the free throw to give NU their three-point advantage back, 42-39, with under 15 minutes to go.  Two free throws off a well designed play that yielded a foul on Green got the lead back up to five.  Fields made a short jumper to stem the tide, but Northwestern continued to go inside and draw fouls on Stanford players, getting Mann and Green their fourth fouls, sending each of them to bench.  The only way Stanford seemed to stay close was because Northwestern could not make their free throws, missing several in a row, keeping the lead at 46-41, as the teams headed to the bench for a breather provided by the media.

Two free throws by Shurna helped push the lead to seven, their biggest of the afternoon, before Shiller came in and made another big three, this time from the left wing, to stop the momentum.  A Fields layup after a Northwestern miss cut the lead down to two, giving Stanford some hope that they could keep pace with the home team.  Gabriel Harris came out of nowhere to block a strong layup from by Jeremy Nash and Fields found a way to grab an offensive rebound and get a deuce to cut the lead to one, 49-48.  Three free throws by Northwestern (they made one field goal over nearly an eight-minute span) pushed the advantage back to four, then Mann turned the ball over in the open court and committed his fifth personal foul, sending the sophomore to the bench for the game at the 8:36 mark of the second half.  Could Stanford withstand the loss of their point guard and pull out the gutty win?

Coming out of the second-to-last media break, Stanford's offense continued to struggle versus the 1-3-1- zone without their point guard, committing turnovers on several possessions, then watched as Shurna and Mirkovic make back-to-back three-point shots, suddenly bringing the Wildcats lead to ten, 60-50, with 5:36 remaining in the game.  Three misses by Northwestern on their next possession gave the Cardinal some life as Green made a long two on the next trip down the floor to stop the home side's run.  After taking a timeout, Stanford turned up the pressure on defense, making the Wildcats take a bit more time off the clock, but putting them out of rhythm as they missed a couple of shots.  Green was the beneficiary, making back-to-back shots, one a layup, another a jumper, to take the lead down to four, 60-56, with 2:54 left in the game.  Stanford nearly got a steal on the next Wildcats possession, but couldn't quite corral the board before it went out of bounds in front of the bench, giving Northwestern just 13 seconds to go 94 feet after the last TV timeout with 2:23 remaining in the ball game.

On the ensuing possession, the Wildcats broke the press and had a three-point attempt by Shurna go off the rim, but they got the offensive rebound, resetting the clock.  However, Thompson bowled into Shiller, committing the offensive foul and Green, who had started the game 1-10, hit a left wing three-pointer to bring Stanford within one with 1:49 left in the game.  After a timeouts by both squads, the Wildcats moved the ball around the perimeter and found Thompson wide open for a triple that put the home side up by four with under 80 seconds left.  Green missed on the other end and Northwestern corralled a tough rebound to put the Cardinal into a tough position with under a minute to go.  Stanford committed a foul with 46.3 seconds left, sending Crawford to the line.  He made one of two, but the Cardinal could not get a shot to go down as Harris missed a three-pointer and Zimmerman had a layup rim out, ending Stanford's last hopes of a comeback win.  Northwestern made free throws down the stretch to seal the win for the Wildcats.

For the game, Stanford shot 42% from the field, 36% outside of the arc, but made just 50% (6-12) at the charity stripe, hindering their efforts to win the contest.  Northwestern hit on just 40% of their attempts from the field, finished at 24% from the three-point line, and made 22-33 (67%) from the free throw line.  Stanford outrebounded Northwestern 39-36, but lost the turnover battles, making 18 miscues on the day to the Wildcats' final tally of eight.  Both teams dished out 15 assists.

Stanford was led by Fields' 24 points on 10-17 shooting (6-7 in the second half), nine rebounds, and five assists.  Green was next in line, netting 14 (10 very late), but shot just 5-17 from the field.  Shiller was the only other player in double-digits, getting 12 on four long shots for the day.  Northwestern's leading scorer was Shurna, who finished the matchup with 22 points and eight rebounds.  Thompson finished with 15 and Crawford scored 12 for the victors.
Stanford will travel to Lubbock to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders on Tuesday evening at 5:00pm PST.  Stay tuned to The Bootleg for Kevin Danna's extended coverage of this game with his "And 1" column to come later this evening.

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