Jan. 5, 2014
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Northwestern took to the road for the first time this season in Big Ten play, but the Wildcats were unable to topple Michigan on Sunday as they fell 74-51 at the Crisler Center.
Michigan (10-4, 2-0 B1G) outscored Northwestern (7-8, 0-2 B1G) 43-27 in the second half. The 'Cats shot just 36 percent in the final 20 minutes, while U-M shot nearly 54 percent as the Wolverines cruised to victory in the only scheduled matchup between the two programs this season.
The Wildcats came out of the gates with a strong defensive effort Sunday afternoon. Michigan, which entered the game averaging less than 10 turnovers per game, coughed the ball up three times in its first four possessions. NU capitalized on the miscues to grab an early 7-4 lead when Drew Crawford buried a three-pointer from the left corner to break the early tie.
Northwestern led the ballgame 10-9 after Nikola Cerina flushed a two-handed slam off a pretty feed from JerShon Cobb, but a 10-2 run by the Wolverines put them up by seven points until Crawford hit a contested three-point shot to end the brief scoring drought for the Wildcats. Crawford's second basket from distance of the game was the 204th of his career and one that moved the fifth-year senior ahead of sharpshooting Todd Leslie (1990-94) and into fifth place on NU's all-time list.
The visitors trailed by as many as nine points in the first half. NU cut into that deficit with less than 30 seconds to play when Crawford whipped a cross-court pass to a waiting Kale Abrahamson who proceeded to drill a three-pointer from the right wing. It was the sophomore's second field goal of the day and it made it a two-possession game. Moments later, Nik Stauskas split a pair of free throws with 7.2 seconds left in the half to give U-M its seven-point cushion at the break, 31-24.
Like Crawford, NU's point guard Dave Sobolewski climbed up the program's all-time record book in the first half. With four first-half helpers, the Naperville, Ill., native moved past both Julian Bonner (1995-99) and John Shurna (2009-12) and into seventh place on the all-time assists chart.
Northwestern had several good looks as the second half opened, but a quick five-point spurt from the Wolverines put the home team ahead by 12 points, its largest lead of the afternoon to that point. The Wildcats would answer quickly when Alex Olah snuck behind the defense for an easy dunk and Sanjay Lumpkin hit a three to make it a seven-point game, 36-29, with just over 16 minutes to play.
Soon the Wildcats had a chance to cut their deficit to only four points, but a missed lay-up helped Michigan ignite a methodical 12-2 run over just under four minutes of play that helped grow the lead to 16 points. The lead eventually grew to as many as 26 points for the Maize and Blue before the final margin was reached.
Crawford finished with a team-high 17 points, while Olah was also in double figures for the second time in as many games with 12 for the Wildcats. Lumpkin led NU with seven rebounds and Olah added five. Stauskas led all scorers with 18 points Sunday.
The 'Cats will conclude their brief two-game trip on Thursday, January 9 against the Iowa Hawkeyes. That contest will tip at 8 p.m. CT from Carver-Hawkeye Arena and can be seen live on ESPNU and heard on AM 720 WGN Radio.
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