Adam Zagoria covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
By GENARO C. ARMASMADISON, Wis. (AP) — Bryant McIntosh scored 25 points, and defensive-minded Northwestern beat No. 7 Wisconsin 66-59 on Sunday, securing an important win for the school’s bid to make its first-ever NCAA Tournament.
Dererk Pardon added 11 for the Wildcats (19-6, 8-4), who confounded the Big Ten-leading Badgers by doubling dominant big man Ethan Happ.
Nigel Hayes scored nine of his 13 points in the second half for the Badgers (21-4, 10-2), who had their eight-game winning streak snapped.
The Badgers didn’t let up despite falling behind by 10 with 1 minute left, closing to 60-55 with less than 15 seconds after Zak Showalter hit two foul shots.
But McIntosh followed with two free throws with 42 seconds left, and Wisconsin ran out of time.
McIntosh hit the big shots late, including a drive and basket with 1:58 left to give Northwestern an eight-point lead after Hayes’ twisting layup attempt on the other end glanced off the rim.
Wisconsin opened the second half with a 10-0 run, looking as if it had solved its first-half offensive woes. Northwestern pulled away for good answering with an 8-0 run capped by Pardon’s dunk with 13:24 left to take a 39-32 lead.
Just as important for the Wildcats were the double teams on Happ that forced turnovers and threw the Badgers out of rhythm.
Minus leading scorer Scottie Lindsey because of illness for a third straight game, Northwestern relied on defense to end a two-game skid.
BIG PICTURENorthwestern: The Wildcats (40.3 percent) and Badgers (40.5 percent) led the Big Ten in field goal defense coming into the game. Wisconsin got off to a decent start from the field before the Wildcats knocked the offense out of rhythm with double-teams on Happ. Northwestern held Wisconsin to just two field goals over the final 10 minutes of the first half to take a 31-22 lead at halftime.
Wisconsin: Happ isn’t known for his jumper. But he made an open 17-footer early in the first half that had Badgers fans going nuts. One of the top big men in the Big Ten, Happ could be even more difficult to guard if the 6-foot-10 forward poses even the slightest threat of being able to hit from outside the post. But double-teams were the bigger problem on Sunday, especially when Happ got the ball deep in the post. The Badgers weren’t able to hit enough shots from the open man.
UP NEXTNorthwestern: Plays the first of two home games this week by hosting No. 21 Maryland on Wednesday.
Wisconsin: Travels to Michigan on Thursday.
(AP Photo/Andy Manis)
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.