Jan. 18, 2014
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Northwestern went on the road Saturday afternoon and used another dominant defensive effort to emerge from a hostile Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. with a 54-47 victory over the Indiana Hoosiers.
Northwestern has now won in three of its last five trips to Bloomington dating back to a win on Feb. 25, 2009. The 'Cats also posted a 70-64 win on Feb. 19, 2011 in addition to Saturday's triumph.
The 'Cats stifled the Hoosiers all afternoon long, allowing the home team to shoot just 25 percent from the field. In the first half, IU scored just eight points over the first 17:01 as it shot a total of just 19 percent from the floor in the game's opening 20 minutes.
Drew Crawford and Tre Demps did the bulk of the heavy lifting offensively for NU. Crawford notched 17 points, including 11 in the second half, while Demps poured in 13 of his 15 points in the final 6:31 of the game to aid Northwestern. Crawford added 12 rebounds to secure his fifth double-double of the season and his first in six Big Ten ballgames this year.
Northwestern's lockdown defensive effort began early as the Wildcats forced four turnovers within the first 5-plus minutes of action. Unfortunately, neither team was able to get much going offensively at that point. NU's Kale Abrahamson opened the scoring with a three-pointer from the right wing, but Indiana soon answered with a triple from the top of the key to even the score at 3-3.
The Wildcats finally began to heat up from the field when Abrahamson knocked down his second three-pointer with just over nine minutes to go in the half. The sophomore's long-range tally ignited a 10-2 run over the next 3:51 and helped the visitors to take a 15-6 lead. The 'Cats not only got it done offensively with 10 points on 4-of-9 shooting, but they held IU to a mark of 1-for-9 and notched three blocked shots during that span.
Indiana got back on its feet and eventually tied the game at 19-19 with just over a minute remaining in the half. Abrahamson assured that the Wildcats would not fall behind, however, as he drilled his third three-point basket, this one from the left corner, to give Northwestern a 22-19 lead at the break.
Abrahamson led all players with nine points in the first half, while Northwestern's Alex Olah turned in an all-around solid first 20 minutes behind four points, four rebounds and four blocked shots. Three of Olah's rebounds came on the offensive end to help the Wildcats extend possessions and wear down the Hoosiers by making them play defense for long stretches of time.
As the second half began, Northwestern's Crawford posted up IU's Yogi Ferrell and scored on a short jumper in the paint to open the second-half scoring. The Wildcats soon pushed their lead to eight points at 29-21 on another bucket from Crawford.
Indiana used a methodical 12-6 run, capped by a three-pointer by Evan Gordon over the next 9:54 to gain the lead, 36-35. NU missed seven of its 11 attempts during that stretch as it played some of it without point guard JerShon Cobb who was saddled with a touch of foul trouble.
The lead for the Cream and Crimson would not last, however. Just over a minute after Gordon's big basket, Demps connected from downtown to even the score at 38-38 with 6:31 remaining. The reserve guard gave his team the lead that would last the rest of the day with just over four minutes remaining.
Demps buried one big shot after another and the Hoosiers came no closer than three points down the stretch. Ferrell's three-pointer from in front of his own bench made it a one-posession game with 33 seconds to go. Crawford, Olah and Cobb combined to hit 4-of-6 free throws from that point on to help the Wildcats picked up their first Big Ten win away from Welsh-Ryan Arena this season.
Olah was a force in the middle for NU, finishing with a career-high six blocks. He also finished with eight points and eight rebounds while defending IU's freshman phenom Noah Vonleh for much of the day.
Crawford continued to climb Northwestern's all-time scoring list Saturday. The conference's active leader in points moved one spot ahead of former teammate Michael Thompson and into fourth place with 1,690 career points. Evan Eschmeyer is third on the chart with 1,805 points.
The Wildcats will return to Welsh-Ryan Arena on Tuesday, Jan. 21 to host the Purdue Boilermakers. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. Tickets are available on NUSports.com or by calling 888-GO-PURPLE (467-8775).
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