March 8, 2007
Box Score |
CHICAGO -- Tenth-seed Northwestern made a hard charge in the second half and
almost pulled off the biggest upset of the tournament, falling to the seventh-seed Michigan
State Spartans 62-57 in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday.
Leading by three points late in the game, the Spartans' Goran Suton shot a long airball
with about 11 seconds left. Northwestern's Jeremy Nash, who did an excellent job denying
Drew Neitzel the ball on the possession, grabbed the rebound and threw an outlet pass to
Craig Moore, who was not looking. The ball sailed out of bounds, erasing the Wildcats'
chance to tie it with a 3-pointer.
Neitzel scored 20 points and Travis Walton then hit two free throws with 10.4 seconds left
to seal the win, setting up a matchup with second-seed Wisconsin on Friday.
Michigan State saw a 16-point first-half lead dwindle to four midway through the second
half. They would build it back up to 10 before the final round of drama.
Moore found an open Tim Doyle underneath for a basket, and Doyle threw a no-look pass
to Vince Scott for a layup that pulled Northwestern within 47-43 with 8:36 remaining.
Neitzel's fifth 3-pointer made it 52-45 with 6:55 left, and Suton's three-point play boosted
the lead to 10 with 3:36 remaining.
Moore shot the Wildcats back into it, though.
He hit a 3-pointer with 1:03 left to make it 59-54 and another with 47.5 seconds remaining
to pull Northwestern within 60-57, but the Spartans hung on.
Neitzel hit his first five 3-pointers and was 5-of-7 overall from the outside. Raymar Morgan
added 15 points for the Spartans (22-10).
Kevin Coble and Moore scored 15 apiece for Northwestern. Moore was 5-of-9 from long
range and Coble hit 3-of-4. Coble also grabbed a team-high six boards and becomes the
first freshman in school history to lead the team in both scoring (13.4 ppg) and rebounding
The league-leader with 99 3-pointers during the regular-season, Neitzel hit four as the
Spartans built a 28-12 lead.
Northwestern used the long ball to get back into it late in the half, hitting three 3-pointers
in the final 4:17 to pull within 32-23. And Coble made it a six-point game when he hit from
the outside just over a minute into the second.
Doyle finished with nine points and six assists, setting the Northwestern single-season
record for assists in a season with 157. He also becomes the first player in school history
and the 14th player all-time in the Big Ten to record at least 350 points, 150 assists, 100
rebounds and 50 steals in the same season.
Scott finished with 11 points, including three 3-pointers, in his final game.
The Wildcats hit 11 3-pointers on the day, tying their season-high. But Michigan State was
hot from the field, most notably in the first half, as they shot 67 percent in the first half and
58 percent for the game.
The Associated Press contributed to this story