Drew Crawford failed to get a shot off with the game tied on the final possession of regulation, while Alex Marcotullio squandered an opportunity to tie in the final second of overtime, missing the first of three free throws while trailing by three.
These missed opportunities marked just two of several shortcomings that allowed a game Northwestern once controlled to slowly slip away. After leading by eight with 13 minutes remaining, a spree of Wildcat turnovers sparked a 10-0 run for Michigan, giving the Wolverines their first lead in over 20 minutes. Though a 6-0 run put the ‘Cats back in front with fewer than nine minutes remaining, Northwestern failed to make a field goal in the final 8:27 of regulation, scoring just four points in that span.
The ‘Cats' cold streak from the field was compounded by struggles to rebound on defense, giving Michigan a number of second chances. The Wolverines secured 17 offensive rebounds in the game, nine of which came in the final 13 minutes of play. Michigan used the extra opportunities to overcome its paltry 33% shooting by attempting a whopping 18 more shots than the ‘Cats for the game.
The Wildcats’ ability on the glass actually seemed to worsen when they used a bigger lineup in the second half, while the offense with center Luka Mirkovic on the floor appeared sluggish and failed to create shots.
The Big Ten’s leading scoring pair produced once again, with Crawford and John Shurna putting up a combined 41 points. Though they shot 50% from the field, the ‘Cats coughed up 15 turnovers (to Michigan’s seven) and grabbed just three offensive rebounds (to Michigan’s 17). Michigan made just seven of its 30 three-point attempts but made 15 of 16 free throws, including a clutch 6-for-6 by freshman Trey Burke in the final 1:05 of overtime.
Sixth man of the game: Stu Douglass
Though he went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc, Michigan senior guard Stu Douglass chipped in a quality 38 minutes off the bench, putting in 10 points and making all four of his free throws.
Play of the game:
Trailing by one with under a minute to play, Michigan sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. missed a three-point attempt, but Wildcat teammates Mirkovic and junior Reggie Hearn fought over the rebound and lost it out of bounds, giving the ball back to the Wolverines. With just 38 seconds to play and a full shot clock, Northwestern was forced to foul and ultimately could not recover.
Where does Northwestern stand?
The loss drops Wildcats to 1-3 in the Big Ten and 11-5 overall as they prepare to host the red-hot Michigan Spartans this Saturday. The ‘Cats desperately need to find a signature win they can pin their tourney hopes on down the stretch, and Saturday’s matchup will provide a great opportunity.