Feb. 14, 2010
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EVANSTON, Ill. -- Trailing Minnesota by 13 with eight minutes remaining in the second half, things looked bleak for Northwestern Sunday afternoon at Welsh-Ryan Arena. However, the Cardiac 'Cats refused to go away, using a 20-4 run down the stretch to force overtime and eventually stun the Golden Gophers 77-74.
It was the 17th win of the season and 13th at home for Northwestern (17-8, 6-7 Big Ten), tying the school regular-season mark for both categories.
The Wildcats trailed by as many as 11 in the opening half as Minnesota made six of its first eight attempts from 3-point range. NU would eventually trim the deficit to four, but the Golden Gophers took a 32-24 lead into the break. NU was held to just 34.6 percent (9-26) shooting over the opening 20 minutes of play.
Three early treys by John Shurna over the first four minutes of the second half got Northwestern within two points at 35-33.
But the Wildcat offense hit a skid, going eight minutes and 38 seconds without scoring as Minnesota rattled off 11 consecutive points to take a 13-point advantage with eight minutes left.
Few in attendance gave Northwestern a chance at a comeback, considering it made just three of its first 15 field goal attempts to start the second stanza. Still down 10 with six minutes left, Drew Crawford scored on a lay-up and Shurna hit his fourth triple of the half.
After two free throws by Minnesota, Drew Crawford converted a layup and Shurna drilled yet another shot from beyond the arch to get NU within 50-45 with five minutes still remaining.
The Gophers converted two more from the charity stripe before Crawford completed a three-point play and Luka Mirkovic stole the ball at mid-court and raced in for a lay-up to make it a two-point game.
Following a stop, Mirkovic's 3-pointer from the top of the key just before the shot clock expired with 3:07 to go blew the roof off Welsh-Ryan Arena and gave NU a 53-52 lead.
Northwestern's lead would grow to three, but Blake Hoffarber's 3-pointer with 18.5 seconds remaining tied the game. Michael Thompson had a chance to win it, but his runner at the end of regulation went in and out.
Hoffarber gave Minnesota a three-point lead with a trey with 3:43 remaining, but Thompson answered with a triple of his own. Lay-ins by Jeremy Nash and Crawford extended the Northwestern lead to four before Mirkovic hit two from the charity stripe to make it a six-point game with 1:13 remaining in the extra session.
Minnesota would get back within two, but Thompson made four free throws down the stretch and Crawford added one as the Wildcats pulled off the improbable win.
Shurna led Northwestern with 22 points, hitting six 3-pointers, while Crawford added 18 points and nine rebounds. Mirkovic contributed a double-double with 11 points and 10 boards.
NU returns to action at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday as it hosts Penn State. Tickets are available at NUsports.com or by call 847-491-CATS.