Jan. 4, 2012
Box Score |
Photo Gallery 1 |
Photo Gallery 2
Storify Social Media Recap | Watch Game Highlights
Watch Postgame Press Conference: Free Full (AA)
Site: Evanston, Ill. (Welsh-Ryan Arena)
Score: Illinois 57, Northwestern 56
Records: NU (11-4, 1-2 Big Ten), Illinois (13-3, 2-1 Big Ten)
Next NU Event: Wednesday, Jan. 11 -- at Michigan (Ann Arbor, Mich.), 5:30 p.m. CT
EVANSTON, Ill. -- A frantic finish came up just short for Northwestern as the Wildcats dropped a 57-56 decision to Illinois Wednesday evening at Welsh-Ryan Arena. John Shurna scored 17 of his game-high 20 points in the first half for the Wildcats.
Trailing by eight following a free throw by Brandon Paul with 1:43 remaining, NU made a strong closing surge. The 'Cats made just three of their first 20 field goal attempts in the second half before JerShon Cobb made one from the charity stripe to make it 55-48 with 1:32 left.
After Paul missed on the front end of the bonus, Alex Marcotullio gave Northwestern life by drilling a trey out of the corner with 1:19 remaining to close the deficit to four. The Wildcats got a stop on the other end before Shurna found himself alone at the top of the key and hit a 3-pointer with 36.3 seconds left to make it a one-point game.
Meyers Leonard made one of two tries from the charity stripe with 29.6 seconds left to push Illinois' lead back up to two, 56-54.
Cobb found himself open in the corner for a triple that would have given NU the lead, however, it was off the mark, but Drew Crawford was there to tip it back in to tie the game with 17.2 seconds remaining.
Crawford appeared to draw a charge on Paul on the other end, but no call was made and Myke Henry was fouled with 6.0 seconds showing on the clock. The freshman rattled in the first free throw to give the Illini the lead back.
Following a timeout, Henry missed the second try and Crawford raced the ball up court. The junior got all the way into the lane, but Leonard managed to get a piece of his potential game-winning shot for a block to allow Illinois to hold on.
Northwestern rode the hot hand of Shurna in the opening stanza, scoring 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting. The Wildcats led the majority of the first period and stretched out its lead late the half as Shurna's 3-pointer put NU up 36-26 with 2:22 left.
Illinois would score the final five points of the first period to close to within 36-31 at the intermission.
The Wildcats were ice cold from the field after the break as the visitors opened on an 11-2 run to go in front 42-38 four minutes into the half. Despite its offensive struggles, NU trailed by just three with nine minutes remaining. The Illini's lead would grow to as many as eight with two minutes left, before the Wildcats rallied to tie the game before coming up one point short in the end.
NU shot just 36.4 percent from the field in the contest, including just 24 percent (6-24) in the second half. Illinois shot 42.9 percent and was paced by 12 points and eight rebounds by Leonard.
Cobb, Dave Sobolewski and Luka Mirkovic had three steals apiece for the Wildcats, while Shurna blocked four shots.
Northwestern returns to action Wednesday, Jan. 11 when it travels to Michigan.
Storify Social Media Recap
Be the first to know what's going on with the 'Cats -- Follow @NU_Sports on Twitter, become a fan of Northwestern Athletics on Facebook! and subscribe to the NU Sports Express e-newsletter to receive the latest news, schedule updates and video and to interact with NU. For more information on following specific Northwestern teams online, visit our Social Media page!