Northwestern season over: falls to Indiana in second round of B1G Tournament

Final Score: Indiana, 71, Northwestern, 56

James Blackmon Jr. and Yogi Ferrell clearly did not forget the 72-65 loss to the ‘Cats on Feb. 25. The two guards combined for 42 points, leading No. 7 Indiana to a 71-56 victory over No. 10 Northwestern in the  second round of the B1G Tournament.

“We felt like we owed them one,” Blackmon Jr. said. “We learned a lot from the film and knew what we had to do to win. Now we’re just ready for [Maryland] tomorrow.”

After a Sanjay Lumpkin bucket at 18:40 in the first frame, NU went cold.  The ‘Cats went scoreless for nearly 10 minutes until Nate Taphorn buried a triple at the nine-minute mark. Indiana went on a 21-1 run and led by as much as 18 in the first half.

Bryant McIntosh, who finished the night with 13 points and 5 assists, said the Indiana defense limited their opportunities by knocking their ball screens back to the baseline.

“They were taking us away from the scoring area,” McIntosh said. “It gave them time to rotate with help-side defense. You can’t play offense 35 feet [from the basket].”

The standout statistic was rebounding: Indiana out rebounded Northwestern 42-25, hauled in 22 offensive boards and scored 20 second-chance points.

“Their physicality knocked us back,” Chris Collins said. “The proof is in the pudding– with [their] offensive rebounds and points in the paint.”

As a team, Indiana was not extremely efficient, hitting 27-65 field goals (41.5 percent), but the duo of Blackmon and Ferrell picked up the slack. Blackmon netted 25 points (8-15 FG, 5-10 3pt), six rebounds and seven assists. Ferrell added 17 points and five dimes.

“We went out there and created our own energy,” Ferrell said. “We got rolling off of one another, and then everybody [started] playing together– we all looked really good.”

Collins subbed out seniors JerShon Cobb and Dave Sobolewski in the final minutes, and the players struggled to hold back tears as they hugged their fellow teammates.

“I thanked them for their belief in me and our staff…[for] not jumping ship and going to another school,” Collins said. “They’ve laid the foundation for where our program is headed. They’ve been great representatives of not only our basketball program, but also our school.”

The loss ends NU’s up-and-down 15-17 (6-12 B1G) year that was highlighted by a 10-game conference losing streak and two late-season overtime wins over Iowa and Michigan.

The ‘Cats may receive a bid to play in the College Basketball Invitational, but Collins said the team will respectfully decline.

“It’s time for us to get ready for next year,” Collins said. “It’s time for our guys to get some rest, and then we need to get to work…It’s time to put this season to bed, get our legs underneath us and get ready for the future.”

– Noah Fromson, NNN Sports