By: Kevin Sweeney
Despite what has been a difficult, adversity-filled season for the Northwestern Wildcats, tonight’s matchup with Wisconsin still had plenty of meaning. For the final time, Bryant McIntosh, Scottie Lindsey, and Gavin Skelly would play a home game as members of the Northwestern program.
However, the class may go out with a sour taste in its mouth, as the Wildcats’ struggles continued with a 70-64 loss to Wisconsin Thursday night at Allstate Arena. Ethan Happ led the way for the Badgers with 19 points, 7 rebounds, and 3 blocked shots.
With Vic Law out nursing a foot injury and McIntosh battling a shoulder injury that had forced him out of the previous two contests, the Wildcats were certainly shorthanded. But a huge game from Lindsey, as well as a gritty performance from McIntosh, helped keep Northwestern in it the entire way. The Badgers came out hot from downtown, torching a zone defense the Wildcats deployed that was basically forcing someone other than the star junior forward Happ to beat them. It was junior big man Andy Van Vliet who was the biggest beneficiary, as he exploded for 14 points on 4-6 from downtown.
The Wildcats continued to fight in the second half despite trailing most of the way, but just never seem to get over the hump. The offense stagnated at times, with some careless turnovers taking away momentum and allowing Wisconsin to maintain a slim advantage. But Lindsey refused to let his team go down quietly, rattling off a personal 5-0 run after the deficit had been stretched to 7 with 5 minutes to play and also hitting a key bucket with a minute to go to tighten the score to just 65-64 Wisconsin.
Then came the sequence that would decide the game. The Wildcats played excellent defense and nearly had a turnover, but Dererk Pardon was ruled to have touched the ball out of bounds to keep the ball with Wisconsin with just over 30 seconds to play but just a few seconds on the shot clock. However, Northwestern lost Wisconsin sharpshooter Brevin Pritzl on the far wing, and he buried a dagger triple to give the Badgers a four-point lead. Lindsey missed his heave at the other end, and soon Chris Collins would pull his senior stars with tears in his eyes to give the fans one last chance to serenade them in applause.
Lindsey led all scorers with 26 points, while McIntosh had 18 points and 6 rebounds despite at times not being able to lift his arm above his head throughout this week. The three seniors were honored with a postgame ceremony.
Northwestern will conclude the regular season on Sunday in Iowa City when the take on the Iowa Hawkeyes before heading to New York City the following weekend for the Big Ten Tournament. Be sure to tune in to the action on Sunday on WNUR Sports.