26 January 2010

Recap: Minnesota 65 Northwestern 61

Northwestern fought valiantly but could not close out Minnesota at the Barn tonight. With the victory Minnesota (13-7, 4-4 Big Ten) kept alive its NCAAs hopes while Northwestern (14-6, 3-5) missed a golden opportunity to move itself off the bubble and into the field of 65.

Northwestern got off to a fast start behind stellar shooting on a balanced team effort. Midway through the half foul trouble forced Jeremy Nash to sit with his second foul, and Minnesota took advantage of Northwestern's short bench to climb back into the game and surge to an eight point lead at half.

Minnesota continued its run early in the second half and built its lead to thirteen points. John Shurna scored NU's first eleven points of the second half on three bombs and a pair of free throws to keep NU in the game. Eventually Northwestern clawed their way all the way back and took a one point lead on a Shurna free throw.

Then it was the Blake Hoffarber show. The marksman lived up to his billing and knocked down three key treys. Northwestern tried to withstand the barrage but ultimately fell short after Shurna missed on a pivotal possession during the last minute and failed to corral a rebound off a Minnesota miss on a front end of a one-and-one.

Northwestern's big three on offense all scored in double digits. Shurna led the effort with 19 points including 4-9 from distance. Juice Thompson knocked down five treys for 15 points, and Drew Crawford sliced his way to 11 points despite some struggles from beyond the arc.

Luka Mirkovic continued his tour de force on the glass in conference play as he hauled down a game-high 14 rebounds. Jeremy Nash played some solid defense and knocked down a key trey as Northwestern made its second half run.